Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

Part 9 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

God was to spare Louis XIV. that crowning disaster reserved for other
times; in spite of all his defaults and the culpable errors of his life
and reign, Providence had given this old man, overwhelmed by so many
reverses and sorrows, a truly royal soul, and that regard for his own
greatness which set him higher as a king than he would have been as a
man. "He had too proud a soul to descend lower than his misfortunes had
brought him," says Montesquieu, "and he well knew that courage may right
a crown and that infamy never does." On the 25th of May, the king
secretly informed his plenipotentiaries as well as his generals that the
English were proposing to him a suspension of hostilities; and he added,
"It is no longer a time for flattering the pride of the Hollanders, but,
whilst we treat with them in good faith, it must be with the dignity that
becomes me." "A style different from that of the conferences at the
Hague and Gertruydenberg," is the remark made by M. de Torcy. That which
the king's pride refused to the ill will of the Hollanders he granted to
the good will of England. The day of the commencement of the armistice
Dunkerque was put as guarantee into the hands of the English, who
recalled their native regiments from the army of Prince Eugene; the king
complained that they left him the auxiliary troops; the English ministers
proposed to prolong the truce, promising to treat separately with France
if the allies refused assent to the peace. The news received by Louis
XIV. gave him assurance of better conditions than any one had dared to
hope for.

Villars had not been able to prevent Prince Eugene from becoming master
of Quesnoy on the 3d of July; the imperialists were already making
preparations to invade France; in their army the causeway which connected
Marchiennes with Landrecies was called the Paris road. The marshal
resolved to relieve Landrecies, and, having had bridges thrown over the
Scheldt, he, on the 23d of July, 1712, crossed the river between Bouchain
and Denain; the latter little place was defended by the Duke of
Albemarle, son of General Monk, with seventeen battalions of auxiliary
troops in the pay of the allies; Lieutenant General Albergotti, an
experienced soldier, considered the undertaking perilous. "Go and lie
down for an hour or two, M. d'Albergotti," said Villars; "to-morrow by
three in the morning you shall know whether the enemy's intrenchments are
as strong as you suppose." Prince Eugene was coming up by forced marches
to relieve Denain, by falling on the rearguard of the French army. It
was proposed to Villars to make fascines to fill up the fosses of Denain.
"Do you suppose," said he, pointing to the enemy's army in the distance,
"that those gentry will give us the time? Our fascines shall be the
bodies of the first of our men who fall in the fosse."

"There was not an instant, not a minute to lose," says the marshal in his
Memoires. "I made my infantry march on four lines in the most beautiful
order; as I entered the intrenchment at the head of the troops, I had not
gone twenty paces when the Duke of Albemarle and six or seven of the
emperor's lieutenant generals were at my horse's feet. I begged them to
excuse me if present matters did not permit me to show them all the
politeness I ought, but that the first of all was to provide for the
safety of their persons." The enemy thought of nothing but flight; the
bridges over the Scheldt broke down under the multitude of vehicles and
horses; nearly all the defenders of Denain were taken or killed. Prince
Eugene could not cross the river, watched as it was by French troops; he
did not succeed in saving Marchiennes, which the Count of Broglie, had
been ordered to invest in the very middle of the action in front of
Denain; the imperialists raised the siege of Landrecies, but without
daring to attack Villars, re-enforced by a few garrisons; the marshal
immediately invested Douai; on the 27th of August, the emperor's troops
who were defending one of the forts demanded a capitulation; the officers
who went out asked for a delay of four days, so as to receive orders from
Prince Eugene; the marshal, who was in the trenches, called his
grenadiers. "This is my council on such occasions," said he to the
astonished imperialists. "My friends, these captains demand four days'
time to receive orders from their general; what do you think?" "Leave it
to us, marshal," replied the grenadiers; "in a quarter of an hour we will
slit their windpipes." "Gentlemen," said I to the officers, "they will
do as they have said; so take your own course." The garrison surrendered
at discretion. Douai capitulated on the 8th of September; Le Quesnoy was
taken on the 4th of October, and Bouchain on the 18th; Prince Eugene had
not been able to attempt anything; he fell back under the walls of
Brussels. On the Rhine, on the Alps, in Spain, the French and Spanish
armies had held the enemy in check. The French plenipotentiaries at
Utrecht had recovered their courage. "We put on the face the Hollanders
had at Gertruydenberg, and they put on ours," wrote Cardinal de Polignac
from Utrecht: "it is a complete turning of the tables." "Gentlemen,
peace will be treated for amongst you, for you and without you," was the
remark made to the Hollanders. Hereditary adversary of the Van Witts and
their party, Heinsius had pursued the policy of William III. without the
foresight and lofty views of William Ill.; he had not seen his way in
1709 to shaking off the yoke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene in order to
take the initiative in a peace necessary for Europe; in 1712 he submitted
to the will of Harley and St. John, thus losing the advantages of the
powerful mediatorial position which the United Provinces had owed to the
eminent men successively intrusted with their government. Henceforth
Holland remained a free and prosperous country, respected and worthy of
her independence, but her political influence and importance in Europe
were at an end. Under God's hand great men make great destinies and
great positions for their country as well as for themselves.

The battle of Denain and its happy consequences hastened the conclusion
of the negotiations; the German princes themselves began to split up;
the King of Prussia, Frederic William I., who had recently succeeded his
father, was the first to escape from the emperor's yoke. Lord
Bolingbroke put the finishing stroke at Versailles to the conditions of a
general peace; the month of April was the extreme limit fixed by England
for her allies; on the 11th peace was signed between France, England, the
United Provinces, Portugal, the King of Prussia, and the Duke of Savoy.
Louis XIV. recovered Lijle, Aire, Bethune, and St. Venant; he
strengthened with a few places the barrier of the Hollanders; he likewise
granted to the Duke of Savoy a barrier on the Italian slope of the Alps;
he recognized Queen Anne, at the same time exiling from France the
Pretender James III., whom he had but lately proclaimed with so much
flourish of trumpets, and he razed the fortifications of Dunkerque.
England kept Gibraltar and Minorca; Sicily was assigned to the Duke of
Savoy. France recognized the King of Prussia. The peace was an
honorable and an unexpected one, after so many disasters the King of
Spain held out for some time; he wanted to set up an independent
principality for the Princess des Ursins, _camerera mayor_ to the queen
his wife, an able, courageous, and clever intriguer, all-powerful at
court, who had done good service to the interests of France; he could not
obtain any dismemberment of the United Provinces; and at last Philip V.
in his turn signed. The emperor and the empire alone remained aloof from
the general peace. War recommenced in Germany and on the Rhine. Villars
carried Spires and Kaiserlautern. He laid siege to Landau. His
lieutenants were uneasy. "Gentlemen," said Villars, "I have heard the
Prince of Conde say that the enemy should be feared at a distance and
despised at close quarters." Landau capitulated on the 20th of August;
on the 30th of September Villars entered Friburg; the citadel surrendered
on the 13th of November; the imperialists began to make pacific
overtures; the two generals, Villars and Prince Eugene, were charged with
the negotiations.

[Illustration: Marshal Villars and Prince Eugene----512]

"I arrived at Rastadt on the 26th of November in the afternoon," writes
Villars in his Memoires, "and the Prince of Savoy half an hour after me.
The moment I knew he was in the court-yard, I went to the top of the
steps to meet him, apologizing to him on the ground that a lame man could
not go down; we embraced with the feelings of an old and true friendship
which long wars and various engagements had not altered." The two
plenipotentiaries were headstrong in their discussions. "If we begin war
again," said Villars, "where will you find money?" "It is true that we
haven't any," rejoined the prince; "but there is still some in the
empire." "Poor states of the empire!" I exclaimed; "your advice is not
asked about beginning the dance; yet you must of course follow the
leaders." Peace was at last signed on the 6th of March, 1714: France
kept Landau and Fort Louis; she restored Spires, Brisach, and Friburg.
The emperor refused to recognize Philip V., but he accepted the status
quo; the crown of Spain remained definitively with the house of Bourbon;
it had cost men and millions enough; for an instant the very foundations
of order in Europe had seemed to be upset; the old French monarchy had
been threatened; it had recovered of itself and by its own resources,
sustaining single-handed the struggle which was pulling down all Europe
in coalition against it; it had obtained conditions which restored its
frontiers to the limits of the peace of Ryswick; but it was exhausted,
gasping, at wits' end for men and money; absolute power had obtained from
national pride the last possible efforts, but it had played itself out in
the struggle; the confidence of the country was shaken; it had been seen
what dangers the will of a single man had made the nation incur; the
tempest was already gathering within men's souls. The habit of respect,
the memory of past glories, the personal majesty of Louis XIV. still kept
up about the aged king the deceitful appearances of uncontested power and
sovereign authority; the long decadence of his great-grandson's reign was
destined to complete its ruin.

"I loved war too much," was Louis XIV.'s confession on his death bed.
He had loved it madly and exclusively; but this fatal passion, which had
ruined and corrupted France, had not at any rate remained infructuous.
Louis XIV. had the good fortune to profit by the efforts of his
predecessors as well as of his own servants: Richelieu and Mazarin, Conde
and Turenne, Luxembourg, Catinat, Vauban, Villars, and Louvois, all
toiled at the same work; under his reign France was intoxicated with
excess of the pride of conquest, but she did not lose all its fruits; she
witnessed the conclusion of five peaces, mostly glorious, the last sadly
honorable; all tended to consolidate the unity and power of the kingdom;
it is to the treaties of the Pyrenees, of Westphalia, of Nimeguen, of
Ryswick, and of Utrecht, all signed with the name of Louis XIV., that
France owed Roussillon, Artois, Alsace, Flanders, and Franche-Comte. Her
glory has more than once cost her dear; it has never been worth so much
and such solid increment to her territory.


It is King Louis XIV.'s distinction and heavy, burden in the eyes of
history that it is, impossible to tell of anything in his reign without
constantly recurring to himself. He had two ministers of the higher
order, Colbert and Louvois; several of good capacity, such as Seignelay
and Torcy; others incompetent, like Chamillard; he remained as much
master of the administrators of the first rank as if they had been
insignificant clerks; the home government of France, from 1661 to 1715,
is summed up in the king's relations with his ministers.

"I resolved from the first not to have any premier minister," says Louis
XIV. in his Memoires, "and not to leave to another the functions of king
whilst I had nothing but the title. But, on the contrary, I made up my
mind to share the execution of my orders amongst several persons, in
order to concentrate their authority in my own alone. I might have cast
my eyes upon people of higher consideration than those I selected, but
they seemed to me competent to execute, under me, the matters with which
I purposed to intrust them. I did not think it was to my interest to
look for men of higher standing, because, as I wanted above all things to
establish my own reputation, it was important that the public should
know, from the rank of those of whom I made use, that I had no intention
of sharing my authority with them, and that they themselves, knowing what
they were, should not conceive higher hopes than I wished to give them."

It has been said already that the court governed France in the reign of
Louis XIV.; and what was, in fact, the court? The men who lived about
the king, depending on, his favor, the source or arbiter of their
fortunes. The great lords served in the army, with lustre, when they
bore the name of Conde, Turenne, or Luxembourg; but they never had any
place amongst the king's confidential servants. "Luck, in spite of us,
has as much to do as wisdom--and more--with the choice of our ministers,"
he says in his Memoires, "and, in respect of what wisdom may have to do
therewith, genius is far more effectual than counsel." It was their
genius which made the fortunes and the power of Louis XIV.'s two great
ministers, Colbert and Louvois.

In advance, and on the faith of Cardinal Mazarin, the king knew the worth
of Colbert. "I had all possible confidence in him," says he, "because I
knew that he had a great deal of application, intelligence, and probity."
Rough, reserved, taciturn, indefatigable in work, passionately devoted to
the cause of order, public welfare, and the peaceable aggrandizement of
France, Colbert, on becoming the comptroller of finance in 1661, brought
to the service of the state superior views, consummate experience, and
indomitable perseverance. The position of affairs required no fewer
virtues. "Disorder reigned everywhere," says the king; "on casting over
the various portions of my kingdom not eyes of indifference, but the eyes
of a master, I was sensibly affected not to see a single one which did
not deserve and did not press to be taken in hand. The destitution of
the lower orders was extreme, and the finances, which give movement and
activity to all this great framework of the monarchy, were entirely
exhausted and in such plight that there was scarcely any resource to be
seen; the affluent, to be seen only amongst official people, on the one
hand cloaked all their malversations by divers kinds of artifices, and
uncloaked them on the other by their insolent and audacious extravagance,
as if they were afraid to leave me in ignorance of them."

The punishment of the tax-collectors (_traitants_), prosecuted at the
same time as superintendent Fouquet, the arbitrary redemption of rentes
(_annuities_) on the city of Paris or on certain branches of the taxes,
did not suffice to alleviate the extreme suffering of the people. The
talliages from which the nobility and the clergy were nearly everywhere
exempt pressed upon the people with the most cruel inequality. "The poor
are reduced to eating grass and roots in our meadows like cattle," said a
letter from Blaisois those who can find dead carcasses devour them, and,
unless God have pity upon them, they will soon be eating one another."
Normandy, generally so prosperous, was reduced to the uttermost distress.
"The great number of poor has exhausted charity and the power of those
who were accustomed to relieve them," says a letter to Colbert from the
superintendent of Caen. "In 1662 the town was obliged to throw open the
doors of the great hospital, having no longer any means of furnishing
subsistence to those who were in it. I can assure you that there are
persons in this town who have gone for whole days without anything to
eat. The country, which ought to supply bread for the towns, is crying
for mercy's sake to be supplied therewith itself." The peasants, wasted
with hunger, could no longer till their fields; their cattle had been
seized for taxes. Colbert proposed to the king to remit the arrears of
talliages, and devoted all his efforts to reducing them, whilst
regulating their collection. His desire was to arrive at the
establishment everywhere of real talliages, on landed property, &c.,
instead of personal talliages, variable imposts, depending upon the
supposed means or social position of the inhabitants. He was only very
partially successful, without, however, allowing himself to be repelled
by the difficulties presented by differences of legislation and customs
in the provinces. "Perhaps," he wrote to the superintendent of Aix, in
1681, "on getting to the bottom of the matter and considering it in
detail, you will not discover in it all the impossibilities you have
pictured to yourself." Colbert died without having completed his work;
the talliages, however, had been reduced by eight millions of livres
within the first two years of his administration. "All the imposts of
the kingdom," he writes, in 1662, to the superintendent of Tours, who is
complaining of the destitution of the people, "are, as regards the
talliages, but about thirty-seven millions, and, for forty or fifty years
past, they have always been between forty and fifty millions, except
after the peace, when his Majesty reduced them to thirty-two,
thirty-three, and thirty-four millions."

Peace was of short duration in the reign of Louis XIV., and often so
precarious that it did not permit of disarmament. At the very period
when the able minister was trying to make the people feel the importance
of the diminution in the talliages, he wrote to the king, "I entreat your
Majesty to read these few lines attentively. I confess to your Majesty
that the last time you were graciously pleased to speak to me about the
state of the finances, my respect, the boundless desire I have always had
to please you and serve you to your satisfaction, without making any
difficulty or causing any hitch, and still more your natural eloquence
which succeeds in bringing conviction of whatever you please, deprived me
of courage to insist and dwell somewhat upon the condition of your
finances, for the which I see no other remedy but increase of receipts
and decrease of expenses; wherefore, though this is no concern at all of
mine, I merely entreat your Majesty to permit me to say that in war as
well as in peace you have never consulted your finances for the purpose
of determining your expenditure, which is a thing so extraordinary that
assuredly there is no example thereof. For the past twenty years during
which I have had the honor of serving your Majesty, though the receipts
have greatly increased, you would find that the expenses have much
exceeded the receipts, which might perhaps induce you to moderate and
retrench such as are excessive. I am aware, Sir, that the figure I
present herein is not an agreeable one; but in your Majesty's service
there are different functions; some entail nothing but agreeables whereof
the expenses are the foundation; that with which your Majesty honors me
entails this misfortune, that it can with difficulty produce anything
agreeable, since the proposals for expenses have no limit; but one must
console one's self by constantly laboring to do one's best."

Louis XIV. did not "moderate or retrench his expenses."

Colbert labored to increase the receipts; the new imposts excited
insurrections in Angoumois, in Guyenne, in Brittany. Bordeaux rose in
1695 with shouts of "_Hurrah! for the king without gabel_." Marshal
d'Albret ventured into the streets in the district of St. Michel; he was
accosted by one of the ringleaders. "Well, my friend," said the marshal,
"with whom is thy business? Dost wish to speak to me?" "Yes," replied
the townsman, "I am deputed by the people of St. Michel to tell you that
they are good servants of the king, but that they do not mean to have any
gabel, or marks on pewter or tobacco, or stamped papers, or _yreffe
d'arbitrage_ (arbitration-clerk's fee)." It was not until a year
afterwards that the taxes could be established in Gascony; troops had to
be sent to Rennes to impose the stamp-tax upon the Bretons. "Soldiers
are more likely to be wanted in Lower Brittany than in any other spot,"
said a letter to Colbert from the lieutenant general, M. de Lavardin; "it
is a rough and wild country, which breeds inhabitants who resemble it.
They understand French but slightly, and reason not much better. The
Parliament is at the back of all this." Riots were frequent, and were
put down with great severity. "The poor Low-Bretons collect by forty or
fifty in the fields," writes Madame de Sevigne on the 24th of September,
1675: "as soon as they see soldiers, they throw themselves on their
knees, saying, Mea culpa! all the French they know.. . ."

"The severities are abating," she adds on the 3d of November: "after the
hangings there will be no more hanging." All these fresh imposts, which
had cost so much suffering and severity, brought in but two millions five
hundred thousand livres at Colbert's death. The indirect taxes, which
were at that time called _fermes generales_ (farmings-general), amounted
to thirty-seven millions during the first two years of Colbert's
administration, and rose to sixty-four millions at the time of his death.
"I should be apprehensive of going too far, and that the prodigious
augmentations of the _fermes_ (farmings) would be very burdensome to the
people," wrote Louis XIV. in 1680. The expenses of recovering the taxes,
which had but lately led to great abuses, were diminished by half. "The
bailiffs generally, and especially those who are set over the recovery of
talliages, are such terrible brutes that, by way of exterminating a good
number of these, you could not do anything more worthy of you than
suppress those," wrote Colbert to the criminal magistrate of Orleans.
"I am at this moment promoting two suits against the collectors of
talliages, in which I expect at present to get ten thousand crowns'
damages, without counting another against an assessor's officer, who
wounded one Grimault, the which had one of his daughters killed before
his eyes, his wife, another of his daughters, and his female servant
wounded with swords and sticks, the writ of distrainment being executed
whilst the poor creature was being buried." The bailiffs were
suppressed, and the king's justice was let loose not only against the
fiscal officers who abused their power, but also against tyrannical
nobles. Masters of requests and members of the Parliament of Paris went
to Auvergne and Velay and held temporary courts of justice, which were
called _grands jours_. Several lords were found guilty; Sieur de la
Mothe actually died upon the scaffold for having unjustly despoiled and
maltreated the people on his estates. "He was not one of the worst,"
says Flechier, in his _Journal des Grands Jours d'Auvergne_. The Duke of
Bouillon, governor of the province, had too long favored the guilty.
"I resolved," says the king in his _Memoires,_ "to prevent the people
from being subjected to thousands and thousands of tyrants, instead of
one lawful king, whose indulgence alone it is that causes all this
disorder." The puissance of the provincial governors, already curtailed
by Richelieu, suffered from fresh attacks under Louis XIV. Everywhere
the power passed into the hands of the superintendents, themselves
subjected in their turn to inspection by the masters of requests.
"Acting on the information I had that in many provinces the people were
plagued by certain folks who abused their title of governors in order to
make unjust requisitions," says the king in his _Memoires,_ "I posted men
in all quarters for the express purpose of keeping myself more surely
informed of such exactions, in order to punish them as they deserved."
Order was restored in all parts of France. "The _Auvergnats,_" said a
letter to Colbert from President de Novion, "never knew so certainly that
they had a king as they do now."

"A useless banquet at a cost of a thousand crowns causes me incredible
pain," said Colbert to Louis XIV., and yet, when it is a question of
millions of gold for Poland, I would sell all my property, I would pawn
my wife and children, and I would go afoot all my life to provide for it
if necessary. Your Majesty, if it please you, will forgive me this
little transport. I begin to doubt whether the liberty I take is
agreeable to your Majesty; it has seemed to me that you were beginning to
prefer your pleasures and your diversions to everything else; at the very
time when your Majesty told me at St. Germain that the morsel must be
taken from one's mouth to provide for the increment of the naval
armament, you spent two hundred thousand livres down for a trip to
Versailles, to wit, thirteen thousand pistoles for your gambling expenses
and the queen's, and fifty thousand livres for extraordinary banquets;
you have likewise so intermingled our diversions, with the war on land
that it is difficult to separate the two, and, if your Majesty will be
graciously pleased to examine in detail the amount of useless expenditure
you have incurred, you will plainly see that, if it were all deducted,
you would not be reduced to your present necessity. The right thing to
do, sir, is to grudge five sous for unnecessary things, and to throw
millions about when it is for your glory."

Colbert knew, in fact, how to "throw millions about" when it was for
endowing France with new manufactures and industries. "One of the most
important works of peace," he used to say, "is the re-establishment of
every kind of trade in this kingdom, and to put it in a position to do
without having recourse to foreigners for the things necessary for the
use and comfort of the subjects." "We have no need of anybody, and our
neighbors have need of us;" such was the maxim laid down in a document
of that date, which has often been attributed to Colbert, and which he
certainly put incessantly into practice. The cloth manufactures were
dying out, they received encouragement; a Protestant Hollander, Van
Robais, attracted over to Abbeville by Colbert, there introduced the
making of fine cloths; at Beauvais and in the Gobelins establishment at
Paris, under the direction of the great painter Lebrun, the French
tapestries soon threw into the shade the reputation of the tapestries of
Flanders; Venice had to yield up her secrets and her workmen for the
glass manufactories of St. Gobain and Tourlaville. The great lords and
ladies were obliged to give up the Venetian point with which their
dresses had been trimmed; the importation of it was forbidden, and lace
manufactories were everywhere established in France; there was even a
strike amongst the women at Alencon against the new lace which it was
desired to force them to make. "There are more than eighty thousand
persons working at lace in Alencon, Seez, Argentan, Falaise, and the
circumjacent parishes," said a letter to Colbert from the superintendent
of Alencon, "and I can assure you, my lord, that it is manna and a
blessing from heaven over all this district, where even little children
of seven years of age find means of earning a livelihood; the little
shepherd-girls from the fields work, like the rest, at it; they say that
they will never be able to make such fine point as this, and that one
wants to take away their bread and their means of paying their talliage."
Point d'Alencon won the battle, and the making of lace spread all over
Normandy. Manufactures of soap, tin, arms, silk, gave work to a
multitude of laborers; the home trade of France at the same time received
development; the bad state of the roads was "a dreadful hinderance to
traffic;" Colbert ordered them to be every where improved. "The
superintendents have done wonders, and we are never tired of singing
their praises," writes, Madame de Sevigne to her daughter during one of
her trips; "it is quite extraordinary what beautiful roads there are;
there is not a single moment's stoppage; there are malls and walks
everywhere." The magnificent canal of Languedoc, due to the generous
initiative of Riquet, united the Ocean to the Mediterranean; the canal of
Orleans completed the canal of Briare, commenced by Henry IV. The inland
custom-houses which shackled the traffic between province and province
were suppressed at divers points; many provinces demurred to the
admission of this innovation, declaring that, to set their affairs right,
"there was need of nothing but order, order, order." Colbert also wanted
order, but his views were higher and broader than those of Breton or
Gascon merchants; in spite of his desire to "put the kingdom in a
position to do without having recourse to foreigners for things necessary
for the use and comfort of the French," he had too lofty and too
judicious a mind to neglect the extension of trade; like Richelieu, he
was for founding great trading companies; he had five, for the East and
West Indies, the Levant, the North, and Africa; just as with Richelieu,
they were with difficulty established, and lasted but a little while;
it was necessary to levy subscriptions on the members of the sovereign
corporations; "M. de Bercy put down his name for a thousand livres," says
the journal of Oliver d'Ormesson. "M. de Colbert laughed at him, and
said that it could not be for his pocket's sake; and the end of it was,
that he put down three thousand livres." Colbert could not get over the
mortifying success of the company of the Dutch Indies. "I cannot believe
that they pay forty per cent.," said he. It was with the Dutch that he
most frequently had commercial difficulties. The United Provinces
produced but little, and their merchant navy was exclusively engaged in
the business of transport; the charge of fifty sous per ton on
merchandise carried in foreign vessels caused so much ill humor amongst
the Hollanders that it was partly the origin of their rupture with France
and of the treaty of the Triple Alliance. Colbert made great efforts to
develop the French navy, both the fighting and the merchant. "The
sea-traffic of all the world," he wrote in 1669 to M. de Pomponne, then
ambassador to Holland, "is done with twenty thousand vessels or
thereabouts. In the natural order of things, each nation should have its
own share thereof in proportion to its power, population, and seaboard.
The Hollanders have fifteen or sixteen thousand out of this number, and
the French perhaps four or five hundred at most. The king is employing
all sorts of means which he thinks useful in order to approach a little
more nearly to the number his subjects ought naturally to have."
Colbert's efforts were not useless; at his death, the maritime trade of
France had developed itself, and French merchants were effectually
protected at sea by ships of war. "It is necessary," said Colbert in his
instructions to Seignelay, "that my son should be as keenly alive to all
the disorders that may occur in trade, and all the losses that may be
incurred by every trader, as if they were his own." In 1692 the royal
navy numbered a hundred and eighty-six vessels; a hundred and sixty
thousand sailors were down on the books; the works at the ports of
Toulon, Brest, and Rochefort were in full activity; Louis XIV. was in a
position to refuse the salute of the flag which the English had up to
that time exacted in the Channel from all nations. "The king my brother
and those of whom he takes counsel do not quite know me yet," wrote the
king to his ambassador in London, "when they adopt towards me a tone of
haughtiness and a certain sturdiness which has a savor of menace. I know
of no power under heaven that can make me move a step by that sort of
way; evil may come to me, of course, but no sensation of fear. The King
of England and his chancellor may, of course, see pretty well what my
strength is, but they do not see my heart; I, who feel and know full well
both one and the other, desire that, for sole reply to so haughty a
declaration, they learn from your mouth that I neither seek nor ask for
any accommodation in the matter of the flag, because I shall know quite
well how to maintain my right whatever may happen. I intend before long
to place my maritime forces on such a footing that the English shall
consider it a favor if it be my good pleasure then to listen to
modifications touching a right which is due to me more legitimately than
to them." Duquesne and Tourville, Duguay-Trouin and John Bart, permitted
the king to make good on the seas such proud words. From 1685 to 1712
the French fleets could everywhere hold their own against the allied
squadrons of England and Holland.

So many and such sustained efforts in all directions, so many vast
projects and of so great promise, suited the mind of Louis XIV. as well
as that of his minister. "I tell you what I think," wrote Louis XIV. to
Colbert in 1674; "but, after all, I end as I began, by placing myself
entirely in your hands, being certain that you will do what is most
advantageous for my service." Colbert's zeal for his master's service
merited this confidence. "O," he exclaimed one day, "that I could render
this country happy, and that, far from the court, without favor, without
influence, the grass might grow in my very courts!"

[Illustration: Marly----525]

Louis XIV. was the victim of three passions which hampered and in the
long-run destroyed the accord between king and minister: that for war,
whetted and indulged by Louvois; that for kingly and courtly
extravagance; and that for building and costly fancies. Colbert likewise
loved "buildments" (_les batiments_), as the phrase then was; he urged
the king to complete the Louvre, plans for which were requested of
Bernini, who went to Paris for the purpose; after two years' infructuous
feelers and compliments, the Italian returned to Rome, and the work was
intrusted to Perrault, whose plan for the beautiful colonnade still
existing had always pleased Colbert. The completion of the castle of
St. Germain, the works at Fontainebleau and at Chambord, the triumphal
arches of St. Denis and St. Martin, the laying out of the Tuileries, the
construction of the Observatory, and even that of the Palais des
Invalides, which was Louvois' idea, found the comptroller of the finances
well disposed, if not eager.

[Illustration: Colonnade of the Louvre 525a]

Versailles was a constant source of vexation to him. "Your Majesty is
coming back from Versailles," he wrote to the king on the 28th of
September, 1685. "I entreat that you will permit me to say two words
about the reflections I often make upon this subject, and forgive me, if
it please you, for my zeal. That mansion appertains far more to your
Majesty's pleasure and diversion than to your glory; if you would be
graciously pleased to search all over Versailles for the five hundred
thousand crowns spent within two years, you would assuredly have a
difficulty in finding them. If your Majesty thinks upon it, you will
reflect that it will appear forever in the accounts of the treasurers of
your buildments that, whilst you were expending such great sums on this
mansion, you neglected the Louvre, which is assuredly the most superb
palace in the world, and the most worthy of your Majesty's grandeur. You
are aware that, in default of splendid deeds of arms, there is nothing
which denotes the grandeur and spirit of princes more plainly than
buildments do, and all posterity measures them by the ell
of those superb mansions which they have erected during their lives.
O, what pity it were that the greatest king and the most virtuous in that
true virtue which makes the greatest princes should be measured by the
ell of Versailles! And, nevertheless, there is room to fear this
misfortune. For my part, I confess to your Majesty that, notwithstanding
the repugnance you feel to increase the cash-orders [_comptants_], if I
could have foreseen that this expenditure would be so large, I should
have advised the employment of cash-orders, in order to hide the
knowledge thereof forever." [The cash-orders (_ordonnances au comptant_)
did not indicate their object, and were not revised. The king merely
wrote, Pay cash; I know the object of this expenditure (_Bon au comptant:
je sais l'objet de cette depense_).]

[Illustration: Versailles---526]

Colbert was mistaken in his fears for Louis XIV.'s glory; if the expenses
of Versailles surpassed his most gloomy apprehensions, the palace which
rose upon the site of Louis XIV.'s former hunting-box was worthy of the
king who had made it in his own image, and who managed to retain all his
court around him there, by the mere fact of his will and of his royal

Colbert was dead before Versailles was completed; the bills amounted then
to one hundred and sixteen millions; the castle of Marly, now destroyed,
cost more than four millions; money was everywhere becoming scarce; the
temper of the comptroller of finances went on getting worse. "Whereas
formerly it had been noticed that he set to his work rubbing his hands
with joy," says his secretary Perrault, brother of the celebrated
architect, "he no longer worked but with an air of vexation, and even
with sighs. From the good-natured and easy-going creature he had been,
he became difficult to deal with, and there was not so much business, by
a great deal, got through as in the early years of his administration."
"I do not mean to build any more, Mansard; I meet with too many
mortifications," the king would say to his favorite architect. He still
went on building, however; but he quarrelled with Colbert over the cost
of the great railings of Versailles. There's swindling here," said Louis
XIV. "Sir," rejoined Colbert, "I flatter myself, at any rate, that that
word does not apply to me?" "No," said the king; "but more attention
should have been shown. If you want to know what economy is, go to
Flanders; you will see how little those fortifications of the conquered
places cost."

It was Vauban whose praise the king thus sang, and Vauban, devoted to
Louvois, had for a long time past been embroiled with Colbert. The
minister felt himself beaten in the contest he had so long maintained
against Michael Le Tellier and his son. In 1664, at the death of
Chancellor Seguier, Colbert had opposed the elevation of Le Tellier to
this office, "telling the king that, if he came in, he, Colbert, could
not serve his Majesty, as he would have him thwarting everything he
wanted to do." On leaving the council, Le Tellier said to Brienne, "You
see what a tone M. Colbert takes up; he will have to be settled with."
The antagonism had been perpetuated between Colbert and Louvois; their
rivalry in the state had been augmented by the contrary dispositions of
the two ministers. Both were passionately devoted to their work,
laborious, indefatigable, honest in money matters, and both of fierce
and domineering temper; but Louvois was more violent, more bold, less
scrupulous as to ways and means of attaining his end, cruel in the
exercise of his will and his wrath, less concerned about the sufferings
of the people, more exclusively absorbed by one fixed idea; both rendered
great service to the king, but Colbert performing for the prince and the
state only useful offices in the way of order, economy, wise and
far-sighted administration, courageous and steady opposition; Louvois
ever urging the king on according to his bent, as haughty and more
impassioned than he, entangling him and encouraging him in wars which
rendered his own services necessary, without pity for the woes he
entailed upon the nation. It was the misfortune and the great fault of
Louis XIV. that he preferred the counsels of Louvois to those of Colbert,
and that he allowed all the functions so faithfully exercised by the
dying minister to drop into the hands of his enemy and rival.

At sixty-four years of age Colbert succumbed to excess of labor and of
cares. That man, so cold and reserved, whom Madame de Sevigne called
North, and Guy-Patin the Man of Marble (_Vir marmoreus_), felt that
disgust for the things of life which appears so strikingly in the
seventeenth century amongst those who were most ardently engaged in the
affairs of the world. He was suffering from stone; the king sent to
inquire after him and wrote to him. The dying man had his eyes closed;
he did not open them. "I do not want to hear anything more about him,"
said he, when the king's letter was brought to him; "now, at any rate,
let him leave me alone." His thoughts were occupied with his soul's
salvation. Madame de Maintenon used to accuse him of always thinking
about his finances, and very little about religion. He repeated
bitterly, as the dying Cardinal Wolsey had previously said in the case of
Henry, "If I had done for God what I have done for that man, I had been
saved twice over; and now I know not what will become of me." He expired
on the 6th of September, 1683; and on the 10th, Madame de Maintenon wrote
to Madame de St. Geran, "The king is very well; he feels no more now than
a slight sorrow. The death of M. de Colbert afflicted him, and a great
many people rejoiced at that affliction. It is all stuff about the
pernicious designs he had; and the king very cordially forgave him for
having determined to die without reading his letter, in order to be
better able to give his thoughts to God. M. de Seignelay was anxious to
step into all his posts, and has not obtained a single one; he has plenty
of cleverness, but little moral conduct. His pleasures always have
precedence of his duties. He has so exaggerated his father's talents and
services, that he has convinced everybody how unworthy and incapable he
is of succeeding him." The influence of Louvois and the king's ill humor
against the Colberts peep out in the injustice of Madame de Maintenon.
Seignelay had received from Louis XIV. the reversion of the navy; his
father had prepared him for it with anxious strictness, and he had
exercised the functions since 1676. Well informed, clever, magnificent,
Seignelay drove business and pleasure as a pair. In 1685 he gave the
king a splendid entertainment in his castle of Sceaux; in 1686 he set off
for Genoa, bombarded by Duquesne; in 1689 he, in person, organized the
fleet of Tourville at Brest. "He was general in everything," says Madame
de la Fayette; "even when he did not give the word, he had the exterior
and air of it." "He is devoured by ambition," Madame de Maintenon had
lately said: in 1689 she writes, "_Anxious (L'Inquiet, i. e., Louvois_)
hangs but by a thread; he is very much shocked at having the direction of
the affairs of Ireland taken from him; he blames me for it. He counted
on making immense profits; M. de Seignelay counts on nothing but perils
and labors. He will succeed if he do not carry things with too high a
hand. The king would have no better servant, if he could rid himself a
little of his temperament. He admits as much himself; and yet he does
not mend." Seignelay died on the 3d of November, 1690, at the age of
thirty-nine. "He had all the parts of a great minister of state," says
St. Simon, "and he was the despair of M. de Louvois, whom he often placed
in the position of having not a word of reply to say in the king's
presence. His defects corresponded with his great qualities. As a hater
and a friend he had no peer but Louvois." "How young! how fortunate how
great a position!" wrote Madame de Sevigne, on hearing of the death of M.
de Seignelay, "it seems as if splendor itself were dead."

Seignelay had spent freely, but he left at his death more than four
hundred thousand livres a year. Colbert's fortune amounted to ten
millions, legitimate proceeds of his high offices and the king's
liberalities. He was born of a family of merchants, at Rheims, ennobled
in the sixteenth century, but he was fond of connecting it with the
Colberts of Scotland. The great minister would often tell his children
to reflect "what their birth would have done for them if God had not
blessed his labors, and if those labors had not been extreme." He had
married his daughters to the Dukes of Beauvilliers, Chevreuse, and
Mortemart; Seignelay had wedded Mdlle. de Matignon, whose grandmother was
an Orleans-Longueville. "Thus," said Mdlle de Montpensier, "they have
the honor of being as closely related as M. le Prince to the king; Marie
de Bourbon was cousin-german to the king my grandfather. That lends a
grand air to M. de Seignelay, who had by nature sufficient vanity."
Colbert had no need to seek out genealogies, and great alliances were
naturally attracted to his power and the favor he was in. He had in
himself that title which comes of superior merit, and which nothing can
make up for, nothing can equal. He might have said, as Marshal Lannes
said to the Marquis of Montesquieu, who was exhibiting a coat taken out
of his ancestors' drawers, "I am an ancestor myself."

Louvois remained henceforth alone, without rival and without check. The
work he had undertaken for the reorganization of the army was pretty
nearly completed; he had concentrated in his own hands the whole
direction of the military service, the burden and the honor of which were
both borne by him. He had subjected to the same rules and the same
discipline all corps and all grades; the general as well as the colonel
obeyed him blindly. M. de Turenne alone had managed to escape from the
administrative level. "I see quite clearly," he wrote to Louvois on the
9th of September, 1673, "what are the king's wishes, and I will do all I
can to conform to them but you will permit me to tell you that I do not
think that it would be to his Majesty's service to give precise orders,
at such a distance, to the most incapable man in France." Turenne had
not lost the habit of command; Louvois, who had for a long while been
under his orders, bowed to the will of the king, who required apparent
accord between the marshal and the minister, but he never forgave Turenne
for his cool and proud independence. The Prince of Conde more than once
turned to advantage this latent antagonism. After the death of Louvois
and of Turenne, after the retirement of Conde, when the central power
fell into the hands of Chamillard or of Voysin, the pretence of directing
war from the king's closet at Versailles produced the most fatal effects.
"If M. de Chamillard thinks that I know nothing about war," wrote Villars
to Madame de Maintenon, "he will oblige me by finding somebody else in
the kingdom who is better acquainted with it." "If your Majesty," he
said again, "orders me to shut myself up in Bavaria, and if you want to
see your army lost, I will get myself killed at the first opportunity
rather than live to see such a mishap." The king's orders, transmitted
through a docile minister, ignorant of war, had a great deal to do with
the military disasters of Louis XIV.'s later years.

Meanwhile order reigned in the army, and supplies were regular. Louvois
received the nickname of great Victualler (_Vivrier_). The wounded were
tended in hospitals devoted to their use. "When a soldier is once down,
he never gets up again," had but lately been the saying. "Had I been at
my mother's, in her own house, I could not have been better treated,"
wrote M. D'Alligny on the contrary, when he came out of one of the
hospitals created by Louvois. He conceived the grand idea of the Hotel
des Invalides. "It were very reasonable," says the preamble of the
king's edict which founded the establishment, "that they who have freely
exposed their lives and lavished their blood for the defence and
maintenance of this monarchy, who have so materially contributed to the
winning of the battles we have gained over our enemies, and who have
often reduced them to asking peace of us, should enjoy the repose they
have secured for our other subjects, and should pass the remainder of
their days in tranquillity." Up to his death Louvois insisted upon
managing the Hotel des Invalides himself.

Never had the officers of the army been under such strict and minute
supervision; promotion went, by seniority, by "the order on the list," as
the phrase then was, without any favor for rank or birth; commanders were
obliged to attend to their corps. "Sir," said Louvois one day to M. de
Nogaret, "your company is in a very bad state." "Sir," answered Nogaret,
"I was not aware of it." "You ought to be aware," said M. de Louvois:
"have you inspected it?" "No, sir," said Nogaret. "You ought to have
inspected it, sir." "Sir, I will give orders about it." "You ought to
have given them. A man ought to make up his mind, sir, either to openly
profess himself a courtier or to devote himself to his duty when he is an
officer." Education in the schools for cadets, regularity in service,
obligation to keep the companies full instead of pocketing a portion of
the pay in the name of imaginary soldiers who appeared only on the
registers, and who were called dummies (_passe-volants_), the necessity
of wearing uniform, introduced into the army customs to which the French
nobility, as undisciplined as they were brave, had hitherto been utter

Artillery and engineering were developed under the influence of Vauban,
"the first of his own time and one of the first of all times" in the
great art of besieging, fortifying, and defending places. Louvois had
singled out Vauban at the sieges of Lille, Tournay, and Douai, which he
had directed in chief under the king's own eye. He ordered him to render
the places he had just taken impregnable. "This is no child's play,"
said Vauban on setting about the fortifications of Dunkerque, "and I
would rather lose my life than hear said of me some day what I hear said
of the men who have preceded me." Louvois' admiration was unmixed when
he went to examine the works. "The achievements of the Romans which have
earned them so much fame show nothing comparable to what has been done
here," he exclaimed; "they formerly levelled mountains in order to make
highroads, but here more than four hundred have been swept away; in the
place where all those sand-banks were there is now to be seen nothing but
one great meadow. The English and the Dutch often send people hither to
see if all they have been told is true; they all go back full of
admiration at the success of the work and the greatness of the master who
took it in hand." It was this admiration and this dangerous greatness
which suggested to the English their demands touching Dunkerque during
the negotiations for the peace of Utrecht.

The honesty and moral worth of Vauban equalled his genius; he was as
high-minded as he was modest; evil reports had been spread about
concerning the contractors for the fortifications of Lille. Vauban
demanded an inquiry. "You are quite right in thinking, my lord," he
wrote to Louvois, to whom he was united by a sincere and faithful
friendship, "that, if you do not examine into this affair, you cannot do
me justice, and, if you do it me not, that would be compelling me to seek
means of doing it myself, and of giving up forever fortification and all
its concomitants. Examine, then, boldly and severely; away with all
tender feeling, for I dare plainly tell you that in a question of
strictest honesty and sincere fidelity I fear neither the king, nor you,
nor all the human race together. Fortune had me born the poorest
gentleman in France, but in requital she honored me with an honest heart,
so free from all sorts of swindles that it cannot bear even the thought
of them without a shudder." It was not until eight years after the death
of Louvois, in 1699, when Vauban had directed fifty-three sieges,
constructed the fortifications of thirty-three places, and repaired those
of three hundred towns, that he was made a marshal, an honor that no
engineer had yet obtained. "The king fancied he was giving himself the
baton," it was said, "so often had he had Vauban under his orders in
besieging places."

[Illustration: Vauban----534]

The leisure of peace was more propitious to Vauban's fame than to his
favor. Generous and sincere as he was, a patriot more far-sighted than
his contemporaries, he had the courage to present to the king a memorial
advising the recall of the fugitive Huguenots, and the renewal, pure and
simple, of the edict of Nantes. He had just directed the siege of
Brisach and the defence of Dunkerque when he published a great economical
work entitled _la Dime royale,_ the fruit of the reflections of his whole
life, fully depicting the misery of the people and the system of imposts
he thought adapted to relieve it. The king was offended; he gave the
marshal a cold reception and had the work seized. Vauban received his
death-blow from this disgrace. The royal edict was dated March 19, 1707;
the great engineer died on the 30th; he was not quite seventy-four. The
king testified no regret for the loss of so illustrious a servant, with
whom he had lived on terms of close intimacy. Vauban had appeared to
impugn his supreme authority; this was one of the crimes that Louis XIV.
never forgave.

In 1683, at Colbert's death, Vauban was enjoying the royal favor, which
he attributed entirely to Louvois. The latter reigned without any one to
contest his influence with the master. It had been found necessary to
bury Colbert by night to avoid the insults of the people, who imputed to
him the imposts which crushed them. What an unjust and odious mistake of
popular opinion which accused Colbert of the evils which he had fought
against and at the same time suffered under to the last day! All
Colbert's offices, except the navy, fell to Louvois or his creatures.
Claude Lepelletier, a relative of Le Tellier, became comptroller of
finance; he entered the council; M. de Blainville, Colbert's second son,
was obliged to resign in Louvois' favor the superintendence of
buildments, of which the king had previously promised him the reversion.
All business passed into the hands of Louvois. Le Tellier had been
chancellor since 1677; peace still reigned; the all-powerful minister
occupied himself in building Trianon, bringing the River Eure to
Versailles, and establishing unity of religion in France. "The counsel
of constraining the Huguenots by violent means to become Catholics was
given and carried out by the Marquis of Louvois," says an anonymous
letter of the time. "He thought he could manage consciences and control
religion by those harsh measures which, in spite of his wisdom, his
violent nature suggests to him almost in everything." Louvois was the
inventor, of the dragonnades; it was his father, Michael le Tellier, who
put the seals to the revocation of the edict of Nantes; and, a few days
before he died, full of joy at his last work, he piously sang the
canticle of Simeon. Louis XIV. and his ministers believed in good faith
that Protestantism was stamped out. "The king," wrote Madame de
Maintenon, "is very pleased to have put the last touch to the great work
of the reunion of the heretics with the church. Father la Chaise, the
king's confessor, promised that it would not cost a drop of blood, and
M. de Louvois said the same thing." Emigration in mass, the revolt of
the Camisards, and the long-continued punishments, were a painful
surprise for the courtiers accustomed to bend beneath the will of Louis
XIV.; they did not understand that "anybody should obstinately remain of
a religion which was displeasing to the king." The Huguenots paid the
penalty for their obstinacy. The intelligent and acute biographer of
Louvois, M. Camille Rousset, could not defend him from the charge of
violence in their case. On the 10th of June, 1686, he wrote to the
superintendent of Languedoc, "On my representation to the king of the
little heed paid by the women of the district in which you are to the
penalties ordained against those who are found at assemblies, his Majesty
orders that those who are not demoiselles (that is, noble) shall be
sentenced by M. de Baville to be whipped, and branded with the
fleur-de-lis." He adds, on the 22d of July, "The king having thought
proper to have a declaration sent out on the 15th of this month, whereby
his Majesty orders that all those who are henceforth found at such
assemblies shall be punished by death, M. de Baville will take no notice
of the decree I sent you relating to the women, as it becomes useless by
reason of this declaration." The king's declaration was carried out, as
the sentences of the victims prove:--Condemned to the galleys, or
condemned to death--for the crime of assemblies." This was the language
of the Roman emperors. Seventeen centuries of Christianity had not
sufficed to make men comprehend the sacred rights of conscience. The
refined and moderate mind of Madame de Sevigne did not prevent her from
writing to M. de Bussy on the 28th of October, 1685, "You have, no
doubt, seen the edict by which the king revokes that of Nantes; nothing
can be more beautiful than its contents, and never did or will any king
do anything more memorable." The noble libertine and freethinker
replied to her, "I admire the steps taken by the king to reunite the
Huguenots. The war made upon them in former times and the St.
Bartholomew gave vigor to this sect; his Majesty has sapped it little by
little, and the edict he has just issued, supported by dragoons and
Bourdaloues, has given it the finishing stroke." It was the honorable
distinction of the French Protestants to proclaim during more than two
centuries, by their courageous resistance, the rights and duties which
were ignored all around them.

Whilst the reformers were undergoing conversion, exile, or death, war was
recommencing in Europe, with more determination than ever on the part of
the Protestant nations, indignant and disquieted as they were. Louvois
began to forget all about the obstinacy of the religionists, and prepared
for the siege of Philipsburg and the capture of Manheim and Coblentz.
"The king has seen with pleasure," he wrote to Marshal Boufflers, "that,
after well burning Coblentz, and doing all the harm possible to the
elector's palace, you were to march back to Mayence." The haughtiness of
the king and the violence of the minister went on increasing with the
success of their arms; they treated the pope's rights almost as lightly
as those of the Protestants. The pamphleteers of the day had reason to
write, "It is clearly seen that the religion of the court of France is a
pure matter of interest; the king does nothing but what is for that which
he calls his glory and grandeur; Catholics and heretics, Holy Pontiff,
church, and anything you please, are sacrificed to his great pride;
everything must be reduced to powder beneath his feet; we in France are
on the high road to putting the sacred rights of the Holy See on the same
footing as the privileges granted to Calvinists; all ecclesiastical
authority is annihilated. Nobody knows anything of canons, popes,
councils; everything is swallowed up in the authority of one man." "The
king willeth it:" France had no other law any longer; and William III.
saved Europe from the same enslavement.

The Palatinate was in flames; Louvois was urging on the generals and
armies everywhere, sending despatch after despatch, orders upon orders.
"I am a thousand times more impatient to finish this business than you
can be," was the spirited reply he received from M. de la Hoguette, who
commanded in Italy, in the environs of Cuneo; "besides the reasons of
duty which I have always before my eyes, I beg you to believe that the
last letters I received from you were quite strong enough to prevent
negligence of anything that must be done to prevent similar ones, and to
deserve a little more confidence; but the most willing man can do nothing
against roads encumbered with ice and snow." Louvois did not admit this
excuse; he wanted soldiers to be able to cross the defiles of mountains
in the depths of winter just as he would have orange trees travel in the
month of February. "I received orders to send off to Versailles from La
Meilleraye the orange trees which the Duke of Mazarin gave the king,"
writes Superintendent Foucauld in his journal. "M. Louvois, in spite of
the representations I made him, would have them sent by carriage through
the snow and ice. They arrived leafless at Versailles, and several are
dead. I had sent him word that the king could take towns in winter, but
could not make orange trees bear removal from their hothouses." The
nature and the consciences of the Protestants were all that withstood
Louis XIV. and Louvois. On the 16th of July, 1691, death suddenly
removed the minister, fallen in royal favor, detested and dreaded in
France, universally hated in Europe, leaving, however, the king, France,
and Europe with the feeling that a great power had fallen, a great deal
of merit disappeared. "I doubt not," wrote Louis XIV. to Marshal
Boufflers, "that, as you are very zealous for my service, you will be
sorry for the death of a man who served me well." "Louvois," said the
Marquis of La Fare, "should never have been born, or should have lived
longer." The public feeling was expressed in an anonymous epitaph:

"Here lieth he who to his will
Bent every one, knew everything
Louvois, beloved by no one,
still Leaves everybody sorrowing."

The king felt his loss, but did not regret the minister whose tyranny and
violence were beginning to be oppressive to him. He felt himself to be
more than ever master in the presence of the young or inexperienced men
to whom he henceforth intrusted his affairs. Louvois' son, Barbezieux,
had the reversion of the war department; Pontchartrain, who had been
comptroller of finance ever since the retirement of Lepelletier, had been
appointed to the navy in 1690, at the death of Seignelay. "M. de
Pontchartrain had begged the king not to give him the navy," says Dangeau
ingenuously, "because he knew nothing at all about it; but the king's
will was absolute that he should take it. He now has all that M. de
Colbert had, except the buildments." What mattered the inexperience of
ministers? The king thought that he alone sufficed for all.

God had left it to time to undeceive the all-powerful monarch; he alone
held out amidst the ruins; after the fathers the sons were falling around
him; Seignelay had followed Colbert to the tomb; Louvois was dead after
Michael Le Tellier; Barbezieux died in his turn in 1701. "This secretary
of state had naturally good wits, lively and ready conception, and great
mastery of details in which his father had trained him early," writes the
Marquis of Argenson. He had been spoiled in youth by everybody but his
father. He was obliged to put himself at the mercy of his officials, but
he always kept up his position over them, for the son of M. de Louvois,
their creator, so to speak, could not fail to inspire them with respect,
veneration, and even attachment. Louis XIV., who knew the defects of M.
de Barbezieux, complained to him, and sometimes rated him in private, but
he left him his place, because he felt the importance of preserving in
the administration of war the spirit and the principles of Louvois.
"Take him for all in all," says St. Simon, "he had the making of a great
minister in him, but wonderfully dangerous; the best and most useful
friend in the world so long as he was one, and the most terrible, the
most inveterate, the most implacable and naturally ferocious enemy; he
was a man who would not brook opposition in anything, and whose audacity
was extreme." A worthy son of Louvois, as devoted to pleasure as he
was zealous in business, he was carried off in five days, at the age of
thirty-three. The king, who had just put Chamillard into the place of
Pontchartrain, made chancellor at the death of Boucherat, gave him the
war department in succession to Barbezieux, "thus loading such weak
shoulders with two burdens of which either was sufficient to break down
the strongest."

Louis XIV. had been faithfully and mightily served by Colbert and
Louvois; he had felt confidence in them, though he had never had any
liking for them personally; their striking merits, the independence of
their character, which peeped out in spite of affected expressions of
submission and deference, the spirited opposition of the one and the
passionate outbursts of the other, often hurt the master's pride, and
always made him uncomfortable; Colbert had preceded him in the
government, and Louvois, whom he believed himself to have trained, had
surpassed him in knowledge of affairs as well as aptitude for work;
Chamillard was the first, the only one of his ministers whom the king had
ever loved. "His capacity was nil," says St. Simon, who had very
friendly feelings towards Chamillard, "and he believed that he knew
everything and of every sort; this was the more pitiable in that it had
got into his head with his promotions, and was less presumption than
stupidity, and still less vanity, of which he had none. The joke is,
that the mainspring of the king's great affection for him was this very
incapacity. He confessed it to the king at every step, and the king was
delighted to direct and instruct him; in such sort that he grew jealous
for his success as if it were his own, and made every excuse for him."

The king loved Chamillard; the court bore with him because he was easy
and good-natured, but the affairs of the state were imperilled in his
hands; Pontchartrain had already had recourse to the most objectionable
proceedings in order to obtain money; the mental resources of Colbert
himself had failed in presence of financial embarrassments and increasing
estimates. It is said that, during the war with Holland, Louvois induced
the king to contract a loan; the premier-president, Lamoignon, supported
the measure. "You are triumphant," said Colbert, who had vigorously
opposed it; "you think you have done the deed of a good man; what! did
not I know as well as you that the king could get money by borrowing?
But I was careful not to say so. And so the borrowing road is opened.
What means will remain henceforth of checking the king in his
expenditure? After the loans, taxes will be wanted to pay them; and, if
the loans have no limit, the taxes will have none either." At the king's
death the loans amounted to more than two milliards and a half, the
deficit was getting worse and worse every day, there was no more money to
be had, and the income from property went on diminishing. "I have only
some dirty acres which are turning to stones instead of being bread,"
wrote Madame de Sevigne. Trade was languishing, the manufactures founded
by Colbert were dropping away one after another; the revocation of the
edict of Nantes and the emigration of Protestants had drained France of
the most industrious and most skilful workmen; many of the Reformers had
carried away a great deal of capital; the roads, everywhere neglected,
were becoming impracticable. "The tradesmen are obliged to put four
horses instead of two to their wagons," said a letter to Barbezieux from
the superintendent of Flanders, "which has completely ruined the
traffic." The administration of the provinces was no longer under
supervision. "Formerly," says Villars, "the inspectors would pass whole
winters on the frontiers; now they are good for nothing but to take the
height and measure of the men and send a fine list to the court." The
soldiers were without victuals, the officers were not paid, the abuses
but lately put down by the strong hand of Colbert and Louvois were
cropping up again in all directions; the king at last determined to
listen to the general cry and dismiss Chamillard.

"The Dukes of Beauvilliers and Chevreuse were intrusted with this
unpleasant commission, as well as with the king's assurance of his
affection and esteem for Chamillard, and with the announcement of the
marks thereof he intended to bestow upon him. They entered Chamillard's
presence with such an air of consternation as may be easily imagined,
they having always been very great friends of his. By their manner the
unhappy minister saw at once that there was something extraordinary, and,
without giving them time to speak, 'What is the matter, gentlemen?' he
said with a calm and serene countenance. 'If what you have to say
concerns me only, you can speak out; I have been prepared a long while
for anything.' They could scarcely tell what brought them. Chamillard
heard them without changing a muscle, and with the same air and tone with
which he had put his first question, he answered, 'The king is master.
I have done my best to serve him; I hope another may do it more to his
satisfaction and more successfully. It is much to be able to count upon
his kindness and to receive so many marks of it.' Then he asked whether
he might write to him, and whether they would do him the favor of taking
charge of his letter. He wrote the king, with the same coolness, a page
and a half of thanks and regards, which he read out to them at once just
as he had at once written it in their presence. He handed it to the two
dukes, together with the memorandum which the king had asked him for in
the morning, and which he had just finished, sent word orally to his wife
to come after him to L'Etang, whither he was going, without telling her
why, sorted out his papers, and gave up his keys to be handed to his
successor. All this was done without the slightest excitement; without
a sigh, a regret, a reproach, a complaint escaping him, he went down his
staircase, got into his carriage, and started off to L'Etang, alone with
his son, just as if nothing had happened to him, without anybody's
knowing anything about it at Versailles until long afterwards."
[Memoires de St. Simon, t. iii. p. 233.]

Desmarets in the finance and Voysin in the war department, both
superintendents of finance, the former a nephew of Colbert's and
initiated into business by his uncle, both of them capable and assiduous,
succumbed, like their predecessors, beneath the weight of the burdens
which were overwhelming and ruining France. "I know the state of my
finances," Louis XIV. had said to Desmarets; "I do not ask you to do
impossibilities; if you succeed, you will render me a great service; if
you are not successful, I shall not hold you to blame for circumstances."
Desmarets succeeded better than could have been expected without being
able to rehabilitate the finances of the state. Pontchartrain had
exhausted the resource of creating new offices. "Every time your Majesty
creates a new post, a fool is found to buy it," he had said to the king.
Desmarets had recourse to the bankers; and the king seconded him by the
gracious favor with which he received at Versailles the greatest of the
collectors (_traitants_), Samuel Bernard. "By this means everything was
provided for up to the time of the general peace," says M. d'Argenson.
France kept up the contest to the end. When the treaty of Utrecht was
signed, the fleet was ruined and destroyed, the trade diminished by two
thirds, the colonies lost or devastated by the war, the destitution in
the country so frightful that orders had to be given to sow seed in the
fields; the exportation of grain was forbidden on pain of death;
meanwhile the peasantry were reduced to browse upon the grass in the
roads and to tear the bark off the trees and eat it. Thirty years had
rolled by since the death of Colbert, twenty-two since that of Louvois;
everything was going to perdition simultaneously; reverses in war and
distress at home were uniting to overwhelm the aged king, alone
upstanding amidst so many dead and so much ruin.

[Illustration: Misery of the Peasantry----543]

"Fifty years' sway and glory had inspired Louis XIV. with the
presumptuous belief that he could not only choose his ministers well, but
also instruct them and teach them their craft," says M. d'Argenson. His
mistake was to think that the title of king supplied all the endowments
of nature or experience; he was no financier, no soldier, no
administrator, yet he would everywhere and always remain supreme master;
he had believed that it was he who governed with Colbert and Louvois;
those two great ministers had scarcely been equal to the task imposed
upon them by war and peace, by armies, buildments, and royal
extravagance; their successors gave way thereunder and illusions
vanished; the king's hand was powerless to sustain the weight of affairs
becoming more and more disastrous; the gloom that pervaded the later
years of Louis XIV.'s reign veiled from his people's eyes the splendor of
that reign which had so long been brilliant and prosperous, though always
lying heavy on the nation, even when they forgot their sufferings in the
intoxication of glory and success.

It is the misfortune of men, even of the greatest, to fall short of their
destiny. Louis XIV. had wanted to exceed his, and to bear a burden too
heavy for human shoulders. Arbiter, for a while, of the affairs of all
Europe, ever absolute master in his own dominions, he bent at last
beneath the load that was borne without flinching by princes less
powerful, less fortunate, less adored, but sustained by the strong
institutions of free countries. William III. had not to serve him a
Conde, a Turenne, a Colbert, a Louvois; he had governed from afar his own
country, and he had always remained a foreigner in the kingdom which had
called him to the throne; but, despite the dislikes, the bitternesses,
the fierce contests of parties, he had strengthened the foundations of
parliamentary government in England, and maintained freedom in Holland,
whilst the ancient monarchy of France, which reached under Louis XIV.
the pinnacle of glory and power, was slowly but surely going down to
perdition beneath the internal and secret malady of absolute power,
without limit and without restraint.


Independently of simple submission to the Catholic church, there were
three great tendencies which divided serious minds amongst them during
the reign of Louis XIV.; three noble passions held possession of pious
souls; liberty, faith, and love were, respectively, the groundwork as
well as the banner of Protestantism, Jansenism, and Quietism. It was in
the name of the fundamental and innate liberty of the soul, its personal
responsibility and its direct relations with God, that the Reformation
had sprung up and reached growth in France, even more than in Germany and
in England. M. de St. Cyran, the head and founder of Jansenism,
abandoned the human soul unreservedly to the supreme will of God; his
faith soared triumphant over flesh and blood, and his disciples,
disdaining the joys and the ties of earth, lived only for eternity.
Madame Guyon and Fenelon, less ardent and less austere, discovered in the
tender mysticism of pure love that secret of God's which is sought by all
pious souls; in the name of divine love, the Quietists renounced all will
of their own, just as the Jansenists in the name of faith.

Jansenism is dead after having for a long while brooded in the depths of
the most noble souls; Quietism, as a sect, did not survive its
illustrious founders; faith and love have withstood the excess of zeal
and the erroneous tendencies which had separated them from the aggregate
of Christian virtues and doctrines; they have come back again into the
pious treasury of the universal church. Neither time nor persecutions
have been able to destroy in France the strong and independent groundwork
of Protestantism. Faithful to its fundamental principle, it has
triumphed over exile, the scaffold, and indifference, without other head
than God himself and God alone.

Richelieu had slain the political hydra of Huguenots in France; from that
time the Reformers had lived in modest retirement. "I have no complaint
to make of the little flock," Mazarin would say; "if they eat bad grass,
at any rate they do not stray." During the troubles of the Fronde, the
Protestants had resumed, in the popular vocabulary, their old nickname of
_Tant s'en fault_ (Far from it), which had been given them at the time of
the League. "Faithful to the king in those hard times when most
Frenchmen were wavering and continually looking to see which way the .
wind would blow, the Huguenots had been called _Tant s'en fault,_ as
being removed from and beyond all suspicion of the League or of
conspiracy against the state. And so were they rightly designated,
inasmuch as to the cry, '_Qui vive?_' (Whom are you for?) instead of
answering 'Vive Guise!' or 'Vive la Ligue!' they would answer, '_Tant
s'en fault, vive le Roi!_' So that, when one Leaguer would ask another,
pointing to a Huguenot, 'Is that one of ours?' 'Tant s'en fault,' would
be the reply, 'it is one of the new religion.'" Conde had represented to
Cromwell all the Reformers of France as ready to rise up in his favor;
the agent sent by the Protector assured him it was quite the contrary;
and the bearing of the Protestants decided Cromwell to refuse all
assistance to the princes. La Rochelle packed off its governor, who was
favorable to the Fronde; St. Jean d'Angely equipped soldiers for the
king; Montauban, to resist the Frondeurs, repaired the fortifications
thrown down by Richelieu. "The crown was tottering upon the king's
head," said Count d' Harcourt to the pastors of Guienne, "but you have
made it secure." The royal declaration of 1652, confirming and ratifying
the edict of Nantes, was a recompense for the services and fidelity of
the Huguenots. They did not enjoy it long; an edict of 1656 annulled, at
the same time explaining, the favorable declaration of 1652; in 1660 the
last national synod was held at Loudun. "His Majesty has resolved," said
M. de la Magdelaine, deputed from the king to the synod, "that there
shall be no more such assemblies but when he considers it expedient."
Fifteen years had rolled by since the synod of Charenton in 1645. "We
are only too firmly persuaded of the usefulness of our synods, and how
entirely necessary they are for our churches, after having been so long
with out them," sorrowfully exclaimed the moderator, Peter Daille.

For two hundred and twelve years the Reformed church of France was
deprived of its synods. God at last restored to it this corner-stone of
its interior constitution.

The suppression of the edict-chambers instituted by Henry IV. in all the
Parliaments for the purpose of taking cognizance of the affairs of the
Reformers followed close upon the abolition of national synods. Peter
du Bosq, pastor of the church of Caen, an accomplished gentleman and
celebrated preacher, was commissioned to set before the king the
representations of the Protestants. Louis XIV. listened to him kindly.
"That is the finest speaker in my kingdom," he said to his courtiers
after the minister's address. The edict-chambers were, nevertheless,
suppressed in 1669; the half and half (_mi partie_) chambers, composed of
Reformed and Catholic councillors, underwent the same fate in 1679, and
the Protestants found themselves delivered over to the intolerance and
religious prejudices of the Parliaments, which were almost everywhere
harsher, as regarded them, than the governors and superintendents of

"It seemed to me, my son," wrote Louis XIV. in his _Memoires_ of the year
1661, "that those who were for employing violent remedies against the
religion styled Reformed, did not understand the nature of this malady,
caused partly by heated feelings, which should be passed over unnoticed
and allowed to die out insensibly, instead of being inflamed afresh by
equally strong contradiction, which, moreover, is always useless, when
the taint is not confined to a certain known number, but spread
throughout the state. I thought, therefore, that the best way of
reducing the Huguenots of my kingdom little by little, was, in the first
place, not to put any pressure upon them by any fresh rigor against them,
to see to the observance of all that they had obtained from my
predecessors, but to grant them nothing further, and even to confine the
performance thereof within the narrowest limits that justice and
propriety would permit. But as to graces that depended upon me alone, I
have resolved, and I have pretty regularly kept my resolution ever since,
not to do them any, and that from kindness, not from bitterness, in order
to force them in that way to reflect from time to time of themselves, and
without violence, whether it were for any good reason that they deprived
themselves voluntarily of advantages which might be shared by them in
common with all my other subjects."

These prudent measures, "quite in kindness and not in bitterness," were
not enough to satisfy the fresh zeal with which the king had been
inspired. All-powerful in his own kingdom, and triumphant everywhere in
Europe, he was quite shocked at the silent obstinacy of those Huguenots
who held his favor and graces cheap in comparison with a quiet
conscience; his kingly pride and his ignorant piety both equally urged
him on to that enterprise which was demanded by the zeal of a portion of
the clergy. The system of purchasing conversions had been commenced; and
Pellisson, himself originally a Protestant, had charge of the payments, a
source of fraud and hypocrisies of every sort. A declaration of 1679
condemned the relapsed to _honorable amends_ (public recantation, &c.),
to confiscation and to banishment. The door's of all employments were
closed against Huguenots; they could no longer sit in the courts or
Parliaments, or administer the finances, or become medical practitioners,
barristers, or notaries; infants of seven years of age were empowered to
change their religion against their parents' will; a word, a gesture, a
look, were sufficient to certify that a child intended to abjure; its
parents, however, were bound to bring it up according to its condition,
which often facilitated confiscation of property. Pastors were forbidden
to enter the houses of their flocks, save to perform some act of their
ministry; every chapel into which a new convert had been admitted was to
be pulled down, and the pastor was to be banished. It was found
necessary to set a guard at the doors of the places of worship to drive
away the poor wretches who repented of a moment's weakness; the number of
"places of exercise," as the phrase then was, received a gradual
reduction; "a single minister had the charge of six, eight, and ten
thousand persons," says Elias Benoit, author of the _Histoire de l'Edit
de Nantes,_ making it impossible for him to visit and assist the
families, scattered sometimes over a distance of thirty leagues round his
own residence. The wish was to reduce the ministers to give up
altogether from despair of discharging their functions. The chancellor
had expressly said, "If you are reduced to the impossible, so much the
worse for you; we shall gain by it." Oppression was not sufficient to
break down the Reformers. There was great difficulty in checking
emigration, by this time increasing in numbers. Louvois proposed
stronger measures. The population was crushed under the burden of
military billets. Louvois wrote to Marillac, superintendent of Poitou,
"His Majesty has learned with much joy the number of people who continue
to become converts in your department. He desires you to go on paying
attention thereto; he will think it a good idea to have most of the
cavalry and officers quartered upon Protestants; if, according to the
regular proportion, the religionists should receive ten, you can make
them take twenty." The dragoons took up their quarters in peaceable
families, ruining the more well-to-do, maltreating old men, women, and
children, striking them with their sticks or the flat of their swords,
hauling off Protestants in the churches by the hair of their heads,
harnessing laborers to their own ploughs, and goading them like oxen.
Conversions became numerous in Poitou. Those who could fly left France,
at the risk of being hanged if the attempt happened to fail. "Pray lay
out advantageously the money you are going to have," wrote Madame de
Maintenon to her brother, M. d'Aubigne. "Land in Poitou is to be had for
nothing, and the desolation amongst the Protestants will cause more sales
still. You may easily settle in grand style in that province." "We are
treated like enemies of the Christian denomination," wrote, in 1662, a
minister named Jurieu, already a refugee in Holland. "We are forbidden
to go near the children that come into the world, we are banished from
the bars and the faculties, we are forbidden the use of all the means
which might save us from hunger, we are abandoned to the hatred of the
mob, we are deprived of that precious liberty which we purchased with so
many services, we are robbed of our children, who are a part of
ourselves. . . . Are we Turks? Are we infidels? We believe in Jesus
Christ, we do; we believe Him to be the Eternal Son of God, the Redeemer
of the world; the maxims of our morality are of so great purity that none
dare gainsay them; we respect the king; we are good subjects, good
citizens; we are Frenchmen as much as we are Reformed Christians." Jurieu
had a right to speak of the respect for the king which animated the
French Reformers. There was no trace left of that political leaven which
formerly animated the old Huguenots, and made Duke Henry de Rohan say,
"You are all republicans; I would rather have to do with a pack of wolves
than an assembly of parsons." "The king is hood winked," the Protestants
declared; and all their efforts were to get at him and tell his Majesty
of their sufferings. The army remained open to them, though without hope
of promotion; and the gentlemen showed alacrity in serving the king.
"What a position is ours!" they would say; if we make any resistance, we
are treated as rebels; if we are obedient, they pretend we are converted,
and they hoodwink the king by means of our very submission."

[Illustration: The Torture of the Huguenots---552]

The misfortunes were redoubling. From Poitou the persecution had
extended through all the provinces. Superintendent Foucauld obtained the
conversion in mass of the province of Bearn. He egged on the soldiers to
torture the inhabitants of the houses they were quartered in, commanding
them to keep awake all those who would not give in to other tortures.
The dragoons relieved one another so as not to succumb themselves to the
punishment they were making others undergo. Beating of drums,
blasphemies, shouts, the crash of furniture which they hurled from side
to side, commotion in which they kept these poor people in order to force
them to be on their feet and hold their eyes open, were the means they
employed to deprive them of rest. To pinch, prick, and haul them about,
to lay them upon burning coals, and a hundred other cruelties, were the
sport of these butchers. All they thought most about was how to find
tortures which should be painful without being deadly, reducing their
hosts thereby to such a state that they knew not what they were doing,
and promised anything that was wanted of them in order to escape from
those barbarous bands. Languedoc, Guienne, Angoumois, Saintonge, all the
provinces in which the Reformers were numerous, underwent the same fate.
The self-restraining character of the Norman people, their respect for
law, were manifested even amidst persecution; the children were torn away
from Protestant families, and the chapels were demolished by act of
Parliament; the soldiery were less violent than elsewhere, but the
magistrates were more inveterate. "God has not judged us unworthy to
suffer ignominy for His name," said the ministers condemned by the
Parliament for having performed the offices of their ministry. "The king
has taken no cognizance of the case," exclaimed one of the accused,
Legendre, pastor of Rouen; "he has relied upon the judges; it is not his
Majesty who shall give account before God; you shall be responsible, and
you alone; you who, convinced as you are of our innocence, have
nevertheless condemned us and branded us." "The Parliament of Normandy
has just broken the ties which held us bound to our churches," said Peter
du Bosq. The banished ministers took the road to Holland. The seaboard
provinces were beginning to be dispeopled. A momentary disturbance,
which led to belief in a rising of the Reformers in the Cevennes and the
Vivarais, served as pretext for redoubled rigor. Dauphiny and Languedoc
were given up to the soldiery; murder was no longer forbidden them, it
was merely punishing rebels; several pastors were sentenced to death;
Homel, minister of Soyon in the Vivarais, seventy-five years of age, was
broken alive on the wheel. Abjurations multiplied through terror.
"There have been sixty thousand conversions in the jurisdiction of
Bordeaux, and twenty thousand in that of Montauban," wrote Louvois to his
father in the first part of September, 1685; "the rapidity with which
this goes on is such, that, before the end of the month, there will not
remain ten thousand religionists in the district of Bordeaux, in which
there were a hundred and fifty thousand on the 15th of last month." "The
towns of Nimes, Alais, Uzes, Villeneuve, and some others, are entirely
converted," writes the Duke of Noailles to Louvois in the month of
October, 1685; "those of most note in Nimes made abjuration in church the
day after our arrival. There was then a lukewarmness; but matters were
put in good train again by means of some billets that I had put into the
houses of the most obstinate. I am making arrangements for going and
scouring the Uvennes with the seven companies of Barbezieux, and my head
shall answer for it that before the 25th of November not a Huguenot shall
be left there."

And a few days later, at Alais--"I no longer know what to do with the
troops, for the places in which I had meant to, post them get converted
all in a body, and this goes on so quickly that all the men can do is to
sleep for a night at the localities to which I send them. It is certain
that you may add very nearly a third to the estimate given you of the
people of the religion, amounting to the number of a hundred and
eighty-two thousand men, and, when I asked you to give me until the,
25th of next month for their complete conversion, I took too long a
term, for I believe that by the end of the month all will be settled. I
will not, however, omit to tell you that all we have done in these
conversions will be nothing but useless, if the king do not oblige the
bishops to send good priests to instruct the people who want to hear the
gospel preached. But I fear that the king will be worse obeyed in that
respect by the priests than by the religionists. I do not tell you this
without grounds." "There is not a courier who does not bring the king
great causes for joy," writes Madame de Maintenon, "that is to say,
conversions by thousands. I can quite believe that all these
conversions are not sincere, but God makes use of all ways of bringing
back heretics. Their children, at any rate, will be Catholics; their
outward reunion places them within reach of the truth; pray God to
enlighten them all; there is nothing the king has more at heart."

In the month of August, 1684, she said, "The king has a design of
laboring for the entire conversion of the heretics. He often has
conferences about it with M. Le Tellier and M. de Chateauneuf, whereat
I was given to understand that I should not be one too many. M. de
Chateauneuf proposed measures which are not expedient. There must be no
precipitation; it must be conversion, not persecution. M. de Louvois was
for gentleness, which is not in accordance with his nature and his
eagerness to see matters ended. The king is ready to do what is thought
most likely to conduce to the good of religion. Such an achievement will
cover him with glory before God and before men. He will have brought
back all his subjects into the bosom of the church, and will have
destroyed the heresy which his predecessors could not vanquish."

The king's glory was about to be complete; the _gentleness_ of Louvois
had prevailed; he had found himself obliged to moderate the zeal of his
superintendents; "nothing remained but to weed out the religionists of
the small towns and villages;" by stretching a point the process had been
carried into the principality of Orange, which still belonged to the
house of Nassau, on the pretext that the people of that district had
received in their chapels the king's subjects. The Count of Tesse, who
had charge of the expedition, wrote to Louvois, "Not only, on one and the
same day, did the whole town of Orange become converted, but the state
took the same resolution, and the members of the Parliament, who were
minded to distinguish themselves by a little more stubbornness, adopted
the same course twenty-four hours afterwards. All this was done gently,
without violence or disorder. There is only a parson named Chambrun,
patriarch of the district, who persists in refusing to listen to reason;
for the president, who did aspire to the honor of martyrdom, would, as
well as the rest of the Parliament, have turned Mohammedan, if I had
desired it. You would not believe how infatuated all these people were,
and are still, about the Prince of Orange, his authority, Holland,
England, and the Protestants of Germany. I should never end if I were to
recount all the foolish and impertinent proposals they have made to me."
M. de Tesse did not tell Louvois that he was obliged to have the pastors
of Orange seized and carried off. They were kept twelve years in prison
at Pierre-Encise; none but M. de Chambrun, who had been taken to Valence,
managed to escape and take refuge in Holland, bemoaning to the end of his
days a moment's weakness. "I was quite exhausted by torture, and I let
fall this unhappy expression: 'Very well, then, I will be reconciled.'
This sin has brought me down as it were into hell itself, and I have
looked upon myself as a dastardly soldier who turned his back on the day
of battle, and as an unfaithful servant who betrayed the interests of his

The king assembled his council. The lists of converts were so long that
there could scarcely remain in the kingdom more than a few thousand
recalcitrants. "His Majesty proposed to take an ultimate resolution as
regarded the Edict of Nantes," writes the Duke of Burgundy in a
memorandum found amongst his papers. "Monseigneur represented that,
according to an anonymous letter he had received the day before, the
Huguenots had some expectation of what was coming upon them, that there
was perhaps some reason to fear that they would take up arms, relying
upon the protection of the princes of their religion, and that, supposing
they dared not do so, a great number would leave the kingdom, which would
be injurious to commerce and agriculture, and, for that same reason,
would weaken the state. The king replied that he had foreseen all for
some time past, and had provided for all; that nothing in the world would
be more painful to him than to shed a single drop of the blood of his
subjects, but that he had armies and good generals whom he would employ
in case of need against rebels who courted their own destruction. As for
calculations of interest, he thought them worthy of but little
consideration in comparison with the advantages of a measure which would
restore to religion its splendor, to the state its tranquillity, and to
authority all its rights. A resolution was carried unanimously for the
suppression of the Edict of Nantes." The declaration, drawn up by
Chancellor Le Tellier and Chateauneuf, was signed by the king on the 15th
of October, 1685; it was despatched on the 17th to all the
superintendents. The edict of pacification, that great work of the
liberal and prudent genius of Henry IV., respected and confirmed in its
most important particulars by Cardinal Richelieu, recognized over and
over again by Louis XIV. himself, disappeared at a single stroke,
carrying with it all hope of liberty, repose, and justice, for fifteen
hundred thousand subjects of the king. "Our pains," said the preamble of
the edict, "have had the end we had proposed, seeing that the better and
the greater part of our subjects of the religion styled Reformed have
embraced the Catholic. The execution of the Edict of Nantes consequently
remaining useless, we have considered that we could not do better, for
the purpose of effacing entirely the memory of the evils which this false
religion has caused in our kingdom, than revoke entirely the aforesaid
Edict of Nantes, and all that has been done in favor of the said

[Illustration: Revocation of the Edict of Nantes----556]

The edict of October 15, 1685, supposed the religion styled Reformed to
be already destroyed and abolished. It ordered the demolition of all the
chapels that remained standing, and interdicted any assembly or worship;
recalcitrant (_opiniatres_) ministers were ordered to leave the kingdom
within fifteen days; the schools were closed; all new-born babies were to
be baptized by the parish priests; religionists were forbidden to leave
the kingdom on pain of the galleys for the men and confiscation of person
and property for the women. "The will of the king," said superintendent
Marillac at Rouen, "is, that there be no more than one religion in this
kingdom; it is for the glory of God and the well-being of the state."
Two hours were allowed the Reformers of Rouen for making their

One clause, at the end of the edict of October 15, seemed to extenuate
its effect. "Those of our subjects of the religion styled Reformed who
shall persist in their errors, pending the time when it may please God to
enlighten them like the rest, shall be allowed to remain in the kingdom,
country, and lands, which obey the king, there to continue their trade
and enjoy their property without being liable to be vexed or hindered on
pretext of prayer or worship of the said religion of whatsoever nature
they may be." "Never was there illusion more cruel than that which this
clause caused people," says Benoit, in his _Histoire de l'Edit de
Nantes_." It was believed that the king meant only to forbid special
exercises, but that he intended to leave conscience free, since he
granted this grace to all those who were still Reformers, pending the
time when it should please God to enlighten them. Many gave up the
measures they had taken for leaving the country with their families, many
voluntarily returned from the retreats where they had hitherto been
fortunate enough to lie hid. The most mistrustful dared not suppose that
so solemn a promise was only made to be broken on the morrow. They were
all, nevertheless, mistaken; and those who were imprudent enough to
return to their homes were only just in time to receive the dragoons
there." A letter from Louvois to the Duke of Noailles put a stop to all
illusion. "I have no doubt," he wrote, "that some rather heavy billets
upon the few amongst the nobility and third estate still remaining of the
religionists will undeceive them as to the mistake they are under about
the edict M. de Chateauneuf drew up for us. His Majesty desires that you
should explain yourself very sternly, and that extreme severity should be
employed against those who are not willing to become of his religion;
those who have the silly vanity to glory in holding out to the last must
be driven to extremity." The pride of Louis XIV. was engaged in the
struggle; those of his subjects who refused to sacrifice their religion
to him were disobedient, rebellious, and besotted with silly vanity.
"It will be quite ridiculous before long to be of that religion," wrote
Madame de Maintenon.

Even in his court and amongst his most useful servants the king
encountered unexpected opposition. Marshal Schomberg with great
difficulty obtained authority to leave the kingdom; Duquesne was refused.
The illustrious old man, whom the Algerian corsairs called "the old
French capitan, whose bride is the sea, and whom the angel of death has
forgotten," received permission to reside in France without being
troubled about his religion. "For sixty years I have rendered to Caesar
that which was Caesar's," said the sailor proudly; "it is time to render
unto God that which is God's." And, when the king regretted that his
religion prevented him from properly recognizing his glorious career,
"Sir," said Duquesne, "I am a Protestant, but I always thought that my
services were Catholic." Duquesne's children went abroad. When he died,
1688, his body was refused to them. His sons raised a monument to him at
Aubonne, in the canton of Berne, with this inscription: "This tomb awaits
the remains of Duquesne. Passer, should you ask why the Hollanders have
raised a superb monument to Ruyter vanquished, and why the French have
refused a tomb to Ruyter's vanquisher, the fear and respect inspired by a
monarch whose power extends afar do not allow me to answer."

Of the rest, only the Marquis of Ruvigny and the Princess of Tarento,
daughter-in-law of the Duke of La Tremoille and issue of the house of
Hesse, obtained authority to leave France. All ports were closed, all
frontiers watched. The great lords gave way, one after another.
Accustomed to enjoy royal favors, attaching to them excessive value,
living at court, close to Paris, which was spared a great deal during the
persecution, they, without much effort, renounced a faith which closed to
them henceforth the door to all offices and all honors. The gentlemen of
the provinces were more resolute; many realized as much as they could of
their property, and went abroad, braving all dangers, even that of the
galleys in case of arrest. The Duke of La Force had abjured, then
repented of his abjuration, only to relapse again. One of his cousins,
seventy-five years of age, was taken to the galleys. He had for his
companion Louis de Marolles, late king's councillor. "I live just now
all alone," wrote the latter to his wife. "My meals are brought from
outside; if you saw me in my beautiful convict-dress, you would be
charmed. The iron I wear on my leg, though it weighs only three pounds,
inconvenienced me at first far more than that which you saw me in at La
Tournelle." Files of Protestant galley-convicts were halted in the
towns, in the hope of inspiring the obstinate with a salutary terror.

The error which had been fallen into, however, was perceived at court.
The stand made by Protestants astounded the superintendents as well as
Louvois himself. Everywhere men said, as they said at Dieppe, "We will
not change our religion for anybody; the king has power over our persons
and our property, but he has no power over our consciences." There was
fleeing in all directions. The governors grew weary of watching the
coasts and the frontiers. "The way to make only a few go," said Louvois,
"is to leave them liberty to do so without letting them know it." Any
way was good enough to escape from such oppression. "Two days ago,"
wrote M. de Tesse, who commanded at Grenoble, "a woman, to get safe away,
hit upon an invention which deserves to be known. She made a bargain
with a Savoyard, an ironmonger, and had herself packed up in a load of
iron rods, the ends of which showed. It was carried to the custom-house,
and the tradesman paid on the weight of the iron, which was weighed
together with the woman, who was not unpacked until she was six leagues
from the frontier." "For a long time," says M. Floquet, "there was talk
in Normandy of the Count of Marance, who, in the middle of a severe
winter, flying with thirty-nine others on board a fishing-smack,
encountered a tempest, and remained a long time at sea without
provisions, dying of hunger, he, the countess, and all the passengers,
amongst whom were pregnant women, mothers with infants at the breast,
without resources of any sort, reduced for lack of everything to a little
melted snow, with which they moistened the parched lips of the dying
babes." It were impossible to estimate precisely the number of
emigrations; it was probably between three and four hundred thousand.
"To speak only of our own province," writes M. Floquet in his _Histoire
du Parlement de Normandie,_ "about one hundred and eighty-four thousand
religionists went away; more than twenty-six thousand habitations were
deserted; in Rouen there were counted no more than sixty thousand men
instead of the eighty thousand that were to be seen there a few years
before. Almost all trade was stopped there as well as in the rest of
Normandy. The little amount of manufacture that was possible rotted away
on the spot for want of transport to foreign countries, whence vessels
were no longer found to come. Rouen, Darnetal, Elbeuf, Louviers,
Caudebec, Le Havre, Pont-Audemer, Caen, St. Lo, Alencon, and Bayeux were
falling into decay, the different branches of trade and industry which
had but lately been seen flourishing there having perished through the
emigration of the masters whom their skilled workmen followed in shoals."
The Norman emigration had been very numerous, thanks to the extent of its
coasts and to the habitual communication between Normandy, England, and
Holland; Vauban, however, remained very far from the truth when he
deplored, in 1688, "the desertion of one hundred thousand men, the
withdrawal from the kingdom of sixty millions of livres, the enemy's
fleets swelled by nine thousand sailors, the best in the kingdom, and the
enemy's armies by six hundred officers and twelve thousand soldiers, who
had seen service." It is a natural but a striking fact that the
Reformers who left France and were received with open arms in
Brandenburg, Holland, England, and Switzerland carried in their hearts a
profound hatred for the king who drove them away from their country, and
everywhere took service against him, whilst the Protestants who remained
in France, bound to the soil by a thousand indissoluble ties, continued
at the same time to be submissive and faithful. "It is right," said
Chanlay, in a Memoire addressed to the king, "whilst we condemn the
conduct of the new converts, fugitives, who have borne arms against
France since the commencement of this war up to the present, it is right,
say I, to give those who have staid in France the praise and credit they
deserve. Indeed, if we except a few disturbances of little consequence
which have taken place in Languedoc, we have, besides the fact of their
remaining faithful to the king in the provinces, and especially in
Dauphiny, even whilst the confederated armies of the emperor, of Spain,
and of the Duke of Savoy were in the heart of that province in greater
strength than the forces of the king, to note that those who were fit to
bear arms have enlisted amongst the troops of his Majesty and done good
service." In 1745, after sixty years' persecution, consequent upon the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Matthew Desubas, a young pastor
accused before the superintendent of Languedoc, Lenain, said with
high-spirited modesty, "The ministers preach nothing but patience and
fidelity to the king." I am aware of it, sir," answered the
superintendent. The pastors were hanged or burned, the faithful flock
dragged to the galleys and the Tower of Constance. Prayers for the
king, nevertheless, were sent up from the proscribed assemblies in the
desert, whilst the pulpit of Saurin at the Hague resounded with his
anathemas against Louis XIV., and the regiments of emigrant Huguenots
were marching against the king's troops under the flags of England or

The peace of Ryswick had not brought the Protestants the hoped-for
alleviation of their woes. Louis XIV. haughtily rejected the petition of
the English and Dutch plenipotentiaries on behalf of "those in affliction
who ought to have their share in the happiness of Europe." The
persecution everywhere continued,--with determination and legality in the
north, with violence and passion in the south, abandoned to the tyranny
of M. de Lamoignon de Baville, a crafty and cold-bloodedly cruel
politician, without the excuse of any zealous religious conviction. The
execution of several ministers who had remained in hiding in the
Cevennes, or had returned from exile to instruct and comfort their
flocks, raised to the highest pitch the enthusiasm of the Reformers of
Languedoc. Deprived of their highly-prized assemblies and of their
pastors' guidance, men and women, graybeards and children, all at once
fancied themselves animated by the spirit of prophecy. Young girls had
celestial visions; the little peasant lasses poured out their utterances
in French, sometimes in the language and with the sublime eloquence of
the Bible, sole source of their religious knowledge. The rumor of these
marvels ran from village to village; meetings were held to hear the
inspired maidens, in contempt of edicts, the galleys, and the stake. A
gentleman glass-worker, named Abraham de la Serre, was, as it were, the
Samuel of this new school of prophets. In vain did M. de Baville have
three hundred children imprisoned at Uzes, and then send them to the
galleys; the religious contagion was too strong for the punishments.
"Women found themselves in a single day husbandless, childless,
houseless, and penniless," says Court; they remained immovable in their
pious ecstasy; the assemblies multiplied; the troops which had so long
occupied Languedoc had been summoned away by the war of succession in
Spain; the militia could no longer restrain the Reformers growing every
day more enthusiastic through the prophetic hopes which were born of
their long sufferings. The arch-priest of the Cevennes, Abbe du Chayla,
a tyrannical and cruel man, had undertaken a mission at the head of the
Capuchins. His house was crammed with condemned Protestants; the breath
of revolt passed over the mountains on the night of July 27, 1702, the
castle of the arch-priest was surrounded by Huguenots in arms, who
demanded the surrender of the prisoners. Du Chayla refused. The gates
were forced, the condemned released, the priests who happened to be in
the house killed or dispersed. The archpriest had let himself down by a
window; he broke his thigh; he was found hiding in a bush; the castle was
in flames. "No mercy, no mercy!" shouted the madmen; "the Spirit willeth
that he die." Every one of the Huguenots stabbed the poor wretch with
their poniards: "That's for my father, broken on the wheel; that's for my
brother, sent to the galleys; that's for my mother, who died of grief;
that's for my relations in exile!" He received fifty-two wounds. Next
day the Cevennes were everywhere in revolt. A prophet named Seguier was
at the head of the insurrection. He was soon made prisoner. "How dost
thou expect me to treat thee?" asked his judge. "As I would have treated
thee, had I caught thee," answered the prophet. He was burned alive in
the public square of Pont-de-Montvert, a mountain burgh. "Where do you
live?" he had been asked at his examination. "In the desert," he
replied, "and soon in heaven." He exhorted the people from the midst of
the flames. The insurrection went on spreading. "Say not, What can we
do? we are so few; we have no arms!" said another prophet, named Laporte.
"The Lord of hosts is our strength! We will intone the battle-psalms,
and, from the Lozere to the sea, Israel shall arise! And, as for arms,
have we not our axes? They will beget muskets!" The plain rose like the
mountain. Baron St. Comes, an early convert, and colonel of the militia,
was assassinated near Vauvert; murders multiplied; the priests were
especially the object of the revolters' vengeance. They assembled under
the name of _Children of God,_ and marched under the command of two
chiefs, one, named Roland, who formerly served under Catinat, and the
other, a young man, whiles a baker and whiles a shepherd, who was born in
the neighborhood of Anduze, and whose name has remained famous.
John Cavalier was barely eighteen when M. de Baville launched his
brother-in-law, the Count of Broglie, with a few troops upon the
revolted Cevenols. The Catholic peasants called them Camisards, the
origin of which name has never been clearly ascertained. M. de Broglie
was beaten; the insurrection, which was entirely confined to the
populace, disappeared all at once in the woods and rocks of the country,
to burst once more unexpectedly upon the troops of the king. The great
name of Lamoignon shielded Baville; Chamillard had for a long while
concealed from Louis XIV. the rising in the Cevennes. He never did know
all its gravity. "It is useless," said Madame de Maintenon, "for the
king to trouble himself with all the circumstances of this war; it would
not cure the mischief, and would do him much." "Take care," wrote
Chamillard to Baville, on superseding the Count of Broglie by Marshal
Montrevel, "not to give this business the appearance of a serious war."
The rumor of the insurrection in Languedoc, however, began to spread in
Europe. Conflagrations, murders, executions in cold blood or in the
heat of passion, crimes on the part of the insurgents, as well as
cruelties on the part of judges and generals, succeeded one another
uninterruptedly, without the military authorities being able to crush a
revolt that it was impossible to put down by terror or punishments. "I
take it for a fact," said a letter to Chamillard from M. de Julien, an
able captain of irregulars, lately sent into Languedoc to aid the Count
of Broglie, "that there are not in this district forty who are real
converts, and are not entirely on the side of the Camisards. I include
in that number females as well as males, and the mothers and daughters
would give the more striking proofs of their fury if they had the
strength of the men. . . . I will say but one word more, which is,
that the children who were in their cradles at the time of the general
conversions, as well as those who were four or five years old, are now
more Huguenot than the fathers; nobody, however, has set eyes upon any
minister; how, then, comes it that they are so Huguenot? Because the
fathers and mothers brought them up in those sentiments all the time
they were going to mass. You may rely upon it that this will continue
for many generations." M. de Julien came to the conclusion that the
proper way was to put to the sword all the Protestants of the country
districts and burn all the villages. M. de Baville protested. "It is
not a question of exterminating these people," he said, "but of reducing
them, of forcing them to fidelity; the king must have industrious people
and flourishing districts preserved to him." The opinion of the generals
prevailed; the Cevenols were proclaimed outlaws, and the pope decreed a
crusade against them. The military and religious enthusiasm of the
Camisards went on increasing. Cavalier, young and enterprising, divided
his time between the boldest attempts at surprise and mystical
ecstasies, during which he singled out traitors who would have
assassinated him or sinners who were not worthy to take part in the
Lord's Supper. The king's troops ravaged the country; the Camisards, by
way of reprisal, burned the Catholic villages; everywhere the war was
becoming horrible. The peaceable inhabitants, Catholic or Protestant,
were incessantly changing from wrath to terror. Cavalier, naturally
sensible and humane, sometimes sank into despondency. He would fling
himself on his knees, crying, Lord, turn aside the king from following
the counsels of the wicked!" and then he would set off again upon a new
expedition. The struggle had been going on for two years, and Languedoc
was a scene of fire and bloodshed. Marshal Montrevel had gained great
advantages when the king ordered Villars to put an end to the revolt.
"I made up my mind," writes Villars, in his Memoires, "to try
everything, to employ all sorts of ways except that of ruining one of
the finest provinces in the kingdom, and that, if I could bring back the
offenders without punishing them, I should preserve the best soldiers
there are in the kingdom. They are, said I to myself, Frenchmen, very
brave and very strong, three qualities to be considered." "I shall
always," he adds, "have two ears for two sides."

"We have to do here with a very extraordinary people," wrote the marshal
to Chamillard, soon after his arrival; "it is a people unlike anything I
ever knew--all alive, turbulent, hasty, susceptible of light as well as
deep impressions, tenacious in its opinions. Add thereto zeal for
religion, which is as ardent amongst heretics as Catholics, and you will
no longer be surprised that we should be often very much embarrassed.
There are three sorts of Camisards: the first, with whom we might arrange
matters by reason of their being weary of the miseries of war. The
second, stark mad on the subject of religion, absolutely intractable on
that point; the first little boy or little girl that falls a-trembling
and declares that the Holy Spirit is speaking to it, all the people
believe it, and, if God with all his angels were to come and speak to
them, they would not believe them more; people, moreover, on whom the
penalty of death makes not the least impression; in battle they thank
those who inflict it upon them; they walk to execution singing the
praises of God and exhorting those present, insomuch that it has often
been necessary to surround the criminals with drums to prevent the
pernicious effect of their speeches. Finally, the third: people without
religion, accustomed to pillage, to murder, to quarter themselves upon
the peasants; a rascalry furious, fanatical, and swarming with

Villars had arrived in Languedoc the day after the checks encountered by
the Camisards. The despondency and suffering were extreme; and the
marshal had Cavalier sounded.

"What do you want to lay down your arms?" said the envoy. "Three
things," replied the Cevenol chief: "liberty of conscience, the release
of our brethren detained in the prisons and the galleys, and if these
demands are refused, permission to quit France with ten thousand
persons." The negotiators were intrusted with the most flattering offers
for Cavalier. Sensible, and yet vain, moved by his country's woes, and
flattered by the idea of commanding a king's regiment, the young Camisard
allowed himself to be won. He repaired formally to Nimes for an
interview with the marshal. "He is a peasant of the lowest grade," wrote
Villars to Chamillard, "who is not twenty-two, and does not look
eighteen; short, and with no imposing air, qualities essential for the
lower orders, but surprising good sense and firmness. I asked him
yesterday how he managed to keep his fellows under. 'Is it possible,'
said I, 'that, at your age, and not being long used to command, you found
no difficulty in often ordering to death your own men?' 'No, sir,' said
he, 'when it seemed to me just.' 'But whom did you employ to inflict
it?' 'The first whom I ordered, and nobody ever hesitated to follow my
orders.' I fancy, sir, that you will consider this rather surprising.
Furthermore, he shows great method in the matter of his supplies, and he
disposes his troops for an engagement as well as very experienced
officers could do. It is a piece of luck if I get such a man away from

Cavalier's fellows began to escape from his sway. They had hoped, for a
while, that they would get back that liberty for which they had shed
their blood. "They are permitted to have public prayer and chant their
psalms. No sooner was that known all round," writes Villars, "than
behold my madmen rushing up from burghs and castles in the neighborhood,
not to surrender, but to chant with the rest. The gates were closed;
they leap the walls and force the guards. It is published abroad that I
have indefinitely granted free exercise of the religion." The bishops
let the marshal be.

"Stuff we our ears," said the Bishop of Narbonne, "and make we an end."
The Camisards refused to listen to Cavalier.

"Thou'rt mad," said Roland; "thou bast betrayed thy brethren; thou
shouldst die of shame. Go tell the marshal that I am resolved to remain
sword in hand until the entire and complete restoration of the Edict of
Nantes!" The Cevenols thought themselves certain of aid from England;
only a handful followed Cavalier, who remained faithful to his
engagements. He was ordered with his troop to Elsass; he slipped away
from his watchers and threw himself into Switzerland. At the head of a
regiment of refugees he served successively the Duke of Savoy, the
States-General, and England; he died at Chelsea in 1740, the only one
amongst the Camisards to leave a name in the world.

[Illustration: Death of Roland the Camisard----569]

The insurrection still went on in Languedoc under the orders of Roland,
who was more fanatical and more disinterested than Cavalier; he was
betrayed and surrounded in the castle of Castelnau on the 16th of August,
1704. Roland just had time to leap out of bed and mount his horse; he
was taking to flight with his men by a back door when a detachment of
dragoons came up with him; the Camisard chief put his back against an old
olive and sold his life dearly. When he fell, his lieutenants let
themselves be taken "like lambs" beside his corpse. "They were destined
to serve as examples," writes Villars, "but the manner in which they met
death was more calculated to confirm their religious spirit in these
wrong heads than to destroy it. Lieutenant Maille was a fine young man
of wits above the common. He heard his sentence with a smile, passed
through the town of Nimes with the same air, begging the priest not to
plague him; the blows dealt him did not alter this air in the least, and
did not elicit a single exclamation. His arms broken, he still had
strength to make signs to the priest to be off, and, as long as he could
speak, he encouraged the others. That made me think that the quickest
death is always best with these fellows, and that their sentence should
above all things bear reference to their obstinacy in revolt rather than
in religion." Villars did not carry executions to excess, even in the
case of the most stubborn; little by little the chiefs were killed off in
petty engagements or died in obscurity of their wounds; provisions were
becoming scarce; the country was wasted; submission became more frequent
every day. The principals all demanded leave to quit France. "There are
left none but a few brigands in the Upper Cevennes," says Villars. Some
partial risings, alone recalled, up to 1709, the fact that the old leaven
still existed; the war of the Camisards was over. It was the sole
attempt in history on the part of French Protestantism since Richelieu,
a strange and dangerous effort made by an ignorant and savage people;
roused to enthusiasm by persecution, believing itself called upon by the
spirit of God to win, sword in hand, the freedom of its creed under the
leadership of two shepherd soldiers and prophets. Only the Scottish
Cameronians have presented the same mixture of warlike ardor and pious
enthusiasm, more gloomy and fierce with the men of the North, more
poetical and prophetical with the Cevenols, flowing in Scotland as in
Languedoc from religious oppression and from constant reading of the Holy
Scriptures. The silence of death succeeded everywhere in France to the
plaints of the Reformers and to the crash of arms; Louis XIV. might well
suppose that Protestantism in his dominions was dead.

It was a little before the time when the last of the Camisards, Abraham
Mazel and Claris, perished near Uzes (in 1710), that the king struck the
last blow at Jansenism by destroying its earliest nest and its last
refuge, the house of the nuns of Port-Royal des Champs. With truces and
intervals of apparent repose, the struggle had lasted more than sixty
years between the Jesuits and Jansenism. M. de St. Cyran, who left the
Bastille a few months after the death of Richelieu, had dedicated the
last days of his life to writing against Protestantism, being so much the
more scared by the heresy in that, perhaps, he felt himself attracted
thereto by a secret affinity. He was already dying when there appeared
the book Frequente Communion, by M. Arnauld, youngest son and twentieth
child of that illustrious family of Arnaulds in whom Jansenism seemed to
be personified. The author was immediately accused at Rome, and buried
himself for twenty years in retirement. M. de St. Cyran was still
working, dictating Christian thoughts and points touching death.
_Stantem mori oportet_ (One should die in harness), he would say. On the
3d of October, 1643, he succumbed suddenly, in the arms of his friends.
"I cast my eyes upon the body, which was still in the same posture in
which death had left it," writes Lancelot, "and I thought it so full of
majesty and of mien so dignified that I could not tire of admiring it,
and I fancied that he would still have been capable, in the state in
which he was, of striking with awe the most passionate of his foes, had
they seen him." It was the most cruel blow that could have fallen upon
the pious nuns of Port-Royal. "_Dominus in coelo!_ (Lord in heaven!)"
was all that was said by Mother Angelica Arnauld, who, like M. de St.
Cyran himself, centred all her thoughts and all her affections upon

With his dying breath M. de St. Cyran had said to M. Gudrin, physician to
the college of Jesuits, "Sir, tell your Fathers, when I am dead, not to
triumph, and that I leave behind me a dozen stronger than I." With all
his penetration the director of consciences was mistaken; none of those
he left behind him would have done his work; he had inspired with the
same ardor and the same constancy the strong and the weak, the violent
and the pacific; he had breathed his mighty faith into the most diverse
souls, fired with the same zeal penitents and nuns, men rescued from the
scorching furnace of life in the world, and women brought up from infancy
in the shade of the cloister. M. Arnauld was a great theologian, an
indefatigable controversialist, the oracle and guide of his friends in
their struggle against the Jesuits; M. de Sacy and M. Singlin were wise
and able directors, as austere as M. de St. Cyran in their requirements,
less domineering and less rough than he; but M. de St. Cyran alone was
and could be the head of Jansenism; he alone could have inspired that
idea of immolation of the whole being to the sovereign will of God, as to
the truth which resides in Him alone. Once assured of this point, M. de
St. Cyran became immovable. Mother Angelica pressed him to appear before
the archbishop's council, which was to pronounce upon his book _Theologie
familiere_. "It is always good to humble one's self," she said. "As for
you," he replied, "who are in that disposition, and would not in any
respect compromise the honor of the truth, you could do it; but as for
me, I should break down before the eyes of God if I consented thereto;
the weak are more to be feared sometimes than the wicked."

Mother Angelica Arnauld, to whom these lines were addressed, was the most
perfect image and the most accomplished disciple of M. de St. Cyran.
More gentle and more human than he, she was quite as strong and quite as
zealous. "It is necessary to be dead to everything, and after that to
await everything; such was the motto of her inward life and of the
constant effort made by this impassioned soul, susceptible of all tender
affections, to detach herself violently and irrevocably from earth. The
instinct of command, loftiness and breadth of views, find their place
with the holy priest and with the nun; the mind of M. de St. Cyran was
less practical and his judgment less simple than that of the abbess,
habituated as she had been from childhood to govern the lives of her nuns
as their conscience. A reformer of more than one convent since the day
when she had closed the gates of Port-Royal against her father,
M. Arnauld, in order to restore the strictness of the cloister, Mother
Angelica carried rule along with her, for she carried within herself the
government, rigid, no doubt, for it was life in a convent, but
characterized by generous largeness of heart, which caused the yoke to be
easily borne.

"To be perfect, there is no need to do singular things," she would often
repeat, after St. Francis de Sales; "what is needed is to do common
things singularly well!" She carried the same zeal from convent to
convent, from Port-Royal des Champs to Port-Royal de Paris; from
Maubuisson, whither her superiors sent her to establish a reformation, to
St. Sacrement, to establish union between the two orders; ever devoted to
religion, without having chosen her vocation; attracting around her all
that were hers; her mother, a wife at twelve years of age, and astonished
to find herself obeying after having commanded her twenty children for
fifty years; five of her sisters; nieces and cousins; and in "the
Desert," beside Port-Royal des Champs, her brothers, her nephews, her
friends, steeped like herself in penitence. Before her, St. Bernard had
"dispeopled the world " of those whom he loved, by an error common to
zealous souls and exclusive spirits, solely occupied with thoughts of
salvation. Even in solitude Mother Angelica had not found rest. "I am
not fit to live on earth," she would say; "I know not why I am still
there; I can no longer bear either myself or others; there is none that
seeketh after God." She was piously unjust towards her age, and still
more towards her friends; it was the honorable distinction of M. de St.
Cyran and his disciples that they did seek after God and holiness, at
every cost and every risk.

Mother Angelica was nearing the repose of eternity, the only repose
admitted by her brother M. Arnauld, when the storm of persecution burst
upon the monastery. The Augustinus of Jansenius, Bishop of Ypres, a
friend of M. de St. Cyran's, had just been condemned at Rome. Five
propositions concerning grace were pronounced heretical. "The pope has a
right to condemn them," said the Jansenists, "if they are to be found in
the Augustinus, but, in fact, they are not to be found there." The
dispute waxed hot; M. Arnauld threw himself into it passionately. He, in
his turn, was condemned by the Sorbonne. "This is the very day," he
wrote to his sister, Mother Angelica, "when I am to be wiped out from the
number of the doctors; I hope of God's goodness that He will not on that
account wipe me out from the number of His servants. That is the only
title I desire to preserve." M. Arnauld's friends pressed him to protest
against his condemnation. "Would you let yourself be crushed like a
child?" they said. He wrote in the theologian's vein, lengthily and
bitterly; his friends listened in silence. Arnauld understood them.
"I see quite well that you do not consider this document a good one for
its purpose," said he, "and I think you are right; but you who are
young," and he turned towards Pascal, who had a short time since retired
to Port-Royal, "you ought to do something." This was the origin of the
_Lettres Provinciales_. For the first time Pascal wrote, something other
than a treatise on physics. He revealed himself all at once and
entirely. The recluses of Port-Royal were obliged to close their
schools; they had to disperse. Arnauld concealed himself with his friend
Nicole. "I am having search made everywhere for M. Arnauld," said Louis
XIV. to Boileau, who was supposed to be much attached to the Jansenists.

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest